Nuclear Power Laws

Atomic Energy Act of 1954The Atomic Energy Act is the fundamental U.S. law on both the civilian and the military uses of nuclear materials. On the civilian side, it provides for both the development and the regulation of the uses of nuclear materials and facilities in the United States, declaring the policy that "the development, use, and control of atomic energy shall be directed so as to promote world peace, improve the general welfare, increase the standard of living, and strengthen free competition in private enterprise." The Act requires that civilian uses of nuclear materials and facilities be licensed, and it empowers the NRC to establish by rule or order, and to enforce, such standards to govern these uses as "the Commission may deem necessary or desirable in order to protect health and safety and minimize danger to life or property." Commission action under the Act must conform to the Act\x92s procedural requirements, which provide an opportunity for hearings and Federal judicial review in many instances.
Energy Reorganization Act of 1974The Energy Reorganization Act established the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, a single agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, had responsibility for the development and production of nuclear weapons and for both the development and the safety regulation of the civilian uses of nuclear materials. The Act of 1974 split these functions, assigning to one agency, now the Department of Energy, the responsibility for the development and production of nuclear weapons, promotion of nuclear power, and other energy-related work, and assigning to the NRC the regulatory work, which does not include regulation of defense nuclear facilities. The Act of 1974 gave the Commission its collegial structure and established its major offices. The later amendment to the Act also provided protections for employees who raise nuclear safety concerns.
Reorganization PlansReorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970 established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and gave it a role in establishing "generally applicable environmental standards for the protection of the general environment from radioactive material." Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1980 strengthened the executive and administrative roles of the NRC Chairman, particularly in emergencies, transferring to the Chairman "all the functions vested in the Commission pertaining to an emergency concerning a particular facility or materials ... regulated by the Commission." This Reorganization Plan also provided that all policy formulation, policy-related rulemaking, and orders and adjudications would remain vested with the full Commission.
Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982The Nuclear Waste Policy Act establishes both the Federal government\x92s responsibility to provide a place for the permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, and the generators\x92 responsibility to bear the costs of permanent disposal. Amendments to the Act have focused the Federal government\x92s efforts, through the Department of Energy, on studying a possible site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. If the Department and the President recommend to the Congress that a permanent repository be built there, and if the recommendation survives the special procedures that the Act establishes for Congressional review of the recommendation, the Department will apply to the NRC for authorization to construct the repository. The Act provides for extensive State, Tribal, and public participation in the planning and development of permanent repositories.
Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act gives States the responsibility to dispose of low-level radioactive waste generated within their borders and allows them to form compacts to locate facilities to serve a group of States. The Act provides that the facilities will be regulated by the NRC or by States that have entered into Agreements with the NRC under section 274 of the Atomic Energy Act. The Act also requires the NRC to establish standards for determining when radionuclides are present in waste streams in sufficiently low concentrations or quantities as to be "below regulatory concern."
Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978The Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act establishes programs for the stabilization and control of mill tailings at uranium or thorium mill sites, both active and inactive, in order to prevent or minimize, among other things, the diffusion of radon into the environment. Title II of the Act gives the NRC regulatory authority over mill tailing at sites under NRC license on or after January 1, 1978.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act seeks to limit the spread of nuclear weapons by, among other things, establishing criteria governing U.S. nuclear exports licensed by the NRC and taking steps to strengthen the international safeguards system.
Administrative Procedure Act (5 USC Chapters 5 through 8)The Administrative Procedures Act is the fundamental law governing the processes of Federal administrative agencies. Its original focus was on rulemaking and adjudication. It requires, for example, that affected persons be given adequate notice of proposed rules, and anopportunity to comment on the proposed rules, and that, in cases in which another statute requires that the agency provide a hearing "on the record", the parties are given adequate opportunity to present facts and argument and the hearing officer is impartial. The Act gives interested persons the right to petition an agency for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule. It also provides standards for judicial review of agency actions.
National Environmental Policy ActThe purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act are: To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.

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