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State of New York v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

589 F.3d 551 (2009)

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State of New York v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

589 F.3d 551 (2009)

Facts

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the commission) (defendant) divided the environmental impacts of the renewal of a license for a nuclear power plant into two categories, Category I and Category II. Category I impacts required preparation of a generic environmental-impact statement (EIS). Category II impacts required a site-specific EIS. The commission classified on-site storage of spent nuclear fuel in pools as a Category I impact. The commission found that such storage caused only a small environmental impact after reviewing numerous studies on the effectiveness of risk-mitigation measures for on-site storage. The commission mandated that the mitigation tactics it had reviewed be implemented at all nuclear-power plants. Massachusetts and California (plaintiffs) filed rulemaking petitions, seeking a determination by the commission that the environmental impacts of on-site storage should be considered a Category II impact and be evaluated on a plant-by-plant basis. The two states argued that there was a greater risk of fire from on-site storage than the commission previously accounted for based on one study that the commission had not previously considered. New York and Connecticut (plaintiffs) supported the petitions of Massachusetts and California. The commission considered these petitions together and denied them. The commission determined that the new study provided by Massachusetts and California was not as accurate as the studies on which the commission’s decision relied. The states appealed, arguing that the new information submitted by Massachusetts and California with their rulemaking petitions showed that the risk of fire was higher than originally determined. The states also argued that the commission’s decision to deny the rulemaking petitions was arbitrary because the generic EIS for all nuclear plants relied on information from specific, individual plants and risk varied from plant to plant.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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