The States of New York, Vermont, and Connecticut have filed an appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Nuclear Waste Confidence (renamed Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel) Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) and Rule. The Office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a press release, as did the Office of Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.
As reported by Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune, and the Post Bulletin, the Prairie Island Indian Community joined the states' lawsuit. In August, PIIC expressed its disappointment at NRC's decision to ignore the risks of on-site storage of high-level radioactive waste at Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant, located within hundreds of yards of the nearest tribal residents on the PIIC reservation, on an island in the Mississippi River prone to flooding.
A coalition of nine environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, followed suit, filing a parallel lawsuit. Diane Curran (photo, above) of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP, of Washington, DC, and Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta, serve as legal counsel for the coalition. (NRDC filed a separate, parallel lawsuit.) The Hill reported on the environmental coalition lawsuit, which alleges violations of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as the Atomic Energy Act (AEA).
In June 2012, a three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the states, tribe, and environmental coalition on NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy. The court ordered NRC to carry out an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under NEPA. The current round of lawsuits alleges that NRC flouted the court order, given the shallowness, and worse, of the so-called EIS it carried out, which, among other transgresssions, ignored many thousands of public comments, including comprehensive analysis by expert witnesses working on behalf of the environmental coalition.
If the courts rule in favor of the states, tribe, and environmental coalition on the current round of challenges against NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence/Continuted Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel policy, it could result in major delays in proposed new reactor licensing proceedings, as well as degraded old reactor license extension proceedings.
Beyond Nuclear provides organizational standing for the coalition, thanks to: its six-year-old intervention against the proposed new Fermi 3, MI reactor; its nearly four-year-old intervention against the Davis-Besse, OH, license extension; and its recently launched intervention against the Fermi 2, MI license extension. Michael Keegan of Monroe, MI is the Beyond Nuclear member providing our organization standing in these proceedings, due to his residence with 8 miles of Fermi, and within 50 miles of Davis-Besse. Toledo attorney Terry Lodge serves as legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear in all three proceedings.