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The NRC’s Office of Investigations (OI) recently published its Annual Report FY 2020, summarizing its activities during the last fiscal year. The annual report shows that OI opened 13% more cases in 2020 than in 2019, reversing the downward trend seen over the last several years. The increase in the number of opened investigations is notable given the quarantine and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that many licensees reduced their onsite staffing to minimize the risk of infection.
The US Department of Labor (DOL) announced on February 19 that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will begin investigating whistleblower complaints of retaliation under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Morgan Lewis previously reported on the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act in its December 16 and December 28 LawFlashes, and on the Anti-Money Laundering Act in its January webinar discussing key whistleblower developments in the past year.
For a more detailed analysis of President Joe Biden’s executive orders addressing the “existential threat” of climate change, read the energy practice LawFlash.

A LawFlash prepared by lawyers in our environmental practice discusses the implications of the DC Circuit’s recent decision vacating the Environmental Protection Agency’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule on the Clean Power Plan. 

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The NRC held a public meeting on January 26 to discuss potential options for licensing fusion energy systems. This meeting is part of the NRC’s work to develop regulations to license and regulate advanced nuclear reactors as directed by the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA).
President Joe Biden has elevated Democratic Commissioner Christopher T. Hanson to serve as Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Mr. Hanson succeeds former Republican Chairman Christine Svinicki—the longest-serving Commissioner in the history of the agency—who stepped-down on January 20, 2021. Although timing is uncertain, President Biden also is expected to nominate a fifth Commissioner to fill the former Chair’s vacant seat. If that pick shares Chairman Hanson’s views, the agency’s longstanding threshold for intervenor challenges to license applications could be overturned.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff has sought the Commission’s approval to initiate a rulemaking to update the agency’s environmental protection regulations for licensing activities.
Read a LawFlash published by our colleagues in the tax practice, explaining the implications of the new Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021—which includes the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020—on various industries, including the “green” energy and technology industries.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on December 27, includes the Energy Act of 2020 (Energy Act) and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Taxpayer Act), which contains tax provisions important to the energy sector.
An order issued from the US Department of Energy on December 17 prohibits the installation of Chinese equipment or components in facilities providing power to designated “Critical Defense Facilities.” The order discusses threats to the electric supply chain from China.