2018 - 12 - 06 Mothers for Peace Opposes HR 1320, the Nuke Act

Mothers for Peace is one of eighty environmental organizations opposing HR 1320 (the Nuclear Utilization of Keynote Energy Act, or NUKE Act). This bill would undermine environmental reviews, eliminate hearings for uncontested licensing hearings that have in the past revealed serious deficiencies, weaken an already prejudicial hearing procedures process, and hinder the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) ability to carry out its statutory responsibilities to protect public health and safety. The letter of opposition was drafted by National Resources Defense Council.

November 30, 2018

Dear Senator,

On behalf of our millions of members, we, the undersigned organizations, write to urge opposition to

H.R. 1320, Nuclear Utilization of Keynote Energy Act. The bill would undermine environmental reviews,

eliminate hearings for uncontested licensing, weaken an already prejudicial hearing procedures process,

and hinder the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) ability to carry out its statutory responsibilities

to protect public health and safety.

Because it would limit and weaken the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 7 of this

legislation is the most concerning aspect of this bill. It would limit and weaken NEPA review by setting

arbitrary, draconian, and short time limits for completing major license application milestones, including

the filing of draft Environmental Impact Statements under NEPA. NEPA is a law that drives responsible

outcomes, informed by evidence and diverse stakeholder input. Agencies must use NEPA to thoroughly

explore and consider environmental impacts before decisions are made, not to justify a decision

afterwards. If enacted, the bill would lead to situations where NEPA compliance for a new reactor or

uranium recovery site must be accomplished in just two years, while public input would be limited only

to issues not raised (perhaps decades) before in the Early Site Permitting process.

NRC already has significant issues with the NEPA process that has eroded public trust. Its rules

routinely deny the right of judicial review to any State or member of the public who had not gained party

status before a licensing proceeding years before NRC even issued the first draft NEPA document. To

restore public and State trust in the industry and NRC, Congress should be strengthening NRC hearing

and NEPA requirements, not weakening them.

While this legislation forces short deadlines on NEPA review and increases reporting requirements for

various NRC tasks, sections 2 and 3 would also revise user fee schedules for NRC activities, exempting

advanced reactor licensing activities from user fee recovery. This would cut NRC funding as it faces

budgetary pressures and shift costs from the profiting industry to the taxpayers. NRC must maintain

this funding flexibility to respond to emerging and potentially serious safety and security problems.

Sections 5 and 6 threaten NRC’s ability to conduct hearings and judicial review. Section 5 requires

studying the impact of doing away with “mandatory hearings” for uncontested licensing. These

mandatory hearings are important, and the study is unnecessary. Numerous examples of past

mandatory hearings revealed serious deficiencies in NRC staff reviews, issues that would not have been

raised without mandatory hearings.1 Section 6 would weaken the statutory requirements in the Atomic

Energy Act to allow informal adjudicatory procedures established under the Administrative Procedures

Act to qualify as hearings and judicial review. This codifies existing agency drift and should not be

condoned. To prevent public trust in the NRC from eroding any further, its hearing process should be

made stronger, more formal and rigorous.

Footnote 1: Testimony of Edwin Lyman, PhD Senior Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists On “Enabling Advanced Reactors

and a Legislative Hearing on S.2795, The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act.” Before the

Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Committee on Environment and Public Works U.S. Senate April 21,

2016, at 12, see, http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/49c19c65-0886-46fc-afc7-b944ca7e2e7c/lymantestimony.pdf

We have concerns with the entirety of this bill. Its worst provisions would severely harm or truncate the

NRC’s ability to comply with fundamental environmental laws and weaken its ability to respond to

emerging safety risks. For these reasons, we urge you to oppose H.R. 1320.

Sincerely,

Alliance for Environmental Strategies

Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice

Basin and Range Watch

Beyond Nuclear

Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance

Cape Downwinders

Center for Biological Diversity

Citizen Power, Inc.

Citizens Allied for Safe Energy, Inc.

Citizens awareness network

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition

Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping

Citizens’ Resistance at Fermi 2 (CRAFT)

Clean Water Action

Coalition Against Nukes

Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes

Code Pink

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

CT Coalition Against Millstone

Don’t Waste Michigan

Don’t Waste Michigan- Sherwood Chapter

Earthjustice

Environmental Protection Information Center

Food & Water Watch

GRAMMES – Grandmothers, Mothers, and More for Energy Safety

Green State Solutions

Greenpeace US

HEAL Utah

Heart of America Northwest

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc.

Indian Point Safe Energy Coalitions

Information Network for Responsible Mining

Klamath Forest Alliance

Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

Massachusetts Peace Action

Michigan Safe Energy Future

Michigan Safe Energy Future – Kalamazoo Chapter

Michigan Stop the Nuclear Bombs Campaign

Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment

Native Community Action Council

Natural Resources Defense Council

Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility of United Church of Christ

Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force

New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution

New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Nuclear Issues Study Group

Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Nuclear Watch South

Nuclear Age Pace Foundation

Nukewatch

Ohio CARE – Citizens Against a Radioactive Environment

P.R.E.S.S. (Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security)

Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City

Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles

Proposition One Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Future

Redwood Alliance

San Clemente Green

San Juan Citizens Alliance

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Southern Environmental Law Center

Southwest Research and Information Center

Stand Up/Save Lives Campaign

Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice

Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Coalition

Tennessee Environmental Council

The Peace Farm

The Sierra Club

Toledo Coalition for Safe Energy

Tri-Valley CAREs

Uranium Watch

Veterans for Peace Golden Rule Project

Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance

Western States Legal Foundation

WNY Environmental Alliance

Women’s Energy Matters