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Final Section 468A Regulations Issued at Last

On September 4, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Department of the Treasury (Treasury) published in the Federal Register final regulations under section 468A of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) that address three issues raised by the nuclear electric industry concerning qualified nuclear decommissioning funds ("qualified funds"). These final regulations conclude a many years-long regulation project to clarify the rules relating to decommissioning costs and self-dealing rules. McDermott submitted multiple sets of comments throughout the process, and Marty Pugh provided vital testimony during an IRS hearing on the proposed regulations. Access the full article here.

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D.C. Circuit Orders DOE to Stop Collecting Nuclear Waste Fee

The D.C. Circuit issued an opinion this week in National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. United States Department of Energy ordering the Secretary of Energy to submit a proposal to Congress to change the nuclear waste fee to zero.  Tuesday’s decision was the most recent in a string of court cases following the Obama Administration’s decision in 2009 to defund the Yucca Mountain repository. Nuclear utilities have been paying statutorily mandated fees into the Nuclear Waste Fund since 1983.  The fee is 1 mill per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, and the Department of Energy collects approximately $750 million annually.  In January, the fund was valued at $28.2 billion. Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the Secretary is obligated to review the adequacy of the nuclear waste fee annually.  Prior to 2010, the Secretary’s adequacy determinations were based on the expected costs and projected revenues of the Yucca Mountain repository. ...

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Nuclear Regulator Announces Temporary Suspension of Licensing Decisions

by Ari Peskoe On the heels of a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued an order last week suspending final decisions in reactor licensing cases. The recent court ruling struck down elements of the NRC’s Waste Confidence Decision (WCD), which, according to the NRC, “undergirds certain agency licensing decisions.” The suspension affects issuances of both new construction licenses and reactor license renewals that are dependent on the WCD or temporary storage rules. The NRC did not rule out taking action with respect to waste confidence on a case-by-case basis. In New York v. NRC, the D.C. Circuit held that it “cannot defer to the Commission’s conclusions regarding temporary storage because the Commission did not conduct a sufficient analysis of the environmental risks.”   Petitioners challenged a 2010 update to the...

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Has the Nuclear Renaissance Finally Begun?

by Ari Peskoe The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted 4-1 on February 9 to issue Combined Operating Licenses (COL) for two new nuclear units at the Southern Company’s Vogtle site in Georgia.  The two new reactors are the first to be approved since 1978.  Their approval is the culmination of years of effort by the Federal government to reinvigorate the country’s nuclear industry.  Environmental groups have promised to file a lawsuit challenging the permits. A COL authorizes the licensee to construct and operate a nuclear power plant at a specific site.  Seventeen COL applications are currently pending before the NRC, although four applicants have asked the NRC to suspend further consideration at this time.  Most of the applicant projects are based in states whose laws and regulations guarantee recovery of the reactor’s multi-billion dollar construction cost in the sponsoring utility’s rate-base. The...

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