The US nuclear industry has unveiled its 1999 “wish list” of federal statutory and regulatory reforms it says would enable nuclear plants to better compete in wholesale electricity markets.
“To maximise the benefits of our nation’s leading source of emission-free electricity, the time has come for the federal government to remove unnecessary provisions in existing laws and regulations that impede the transition to a competitive business environment,” said Joe F Colvin, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Colvin called for:
• Legislation to reform the government’s nuclear waste management programme, including construction of an Interim Storage Facility for spent fuel.
• An end to an impasse between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over radiation health standards.
• Revisions to the 42-year-old Atomic Energy Act, including the removal of the requirement that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct antitrust reviews during proceedings for plant license transfers.
• Expedited consideration of requests to change license conditions at nuclear plants.
• Revisions to the Atomic Energy Act that prohibit foreign ownership of commercial nuclear facilities. As long as the nation’s common defense and security, or public health and safety, is not compromised, no restrictions on foreign ownership should remain in place.
• Legislation to ensure recovery of unfunded decommissioning obligations via a charge to electricity consumers.
• Federal tax code amendments that ensure corporate restructurings do not adversely affect decommissioning trust funds.
• Clarification that the user fees levied on NRC licensees reflect only those NRC programs necessary to regulate licensees.
NEI said NRC’s existing fee system acts as a general revenue-raising mechanism forcing licensees to pay $56 million more than is needed for the agency to cover the cost of its services.