The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to modify its June 1 ruling that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) review its Nuclear Waste Fund fee program by reducing the chance of any further DOE delays.
NARUC filed its motion with the appeals court panel on June 7. In its June 1 order, the court gave DOE six months to review the adequacy of the fee program and determine if there is any need for modifying the fee paid by nuclear power plant operators and their customers.
But as it stands now the six-month clock would not start ticking until “the issuance of the mandate” and that could take a while, DOE said.
Under the court’s June 1 order, the mandate is not expected to issue for at least 52 days after June 1. Should DOE timely seek rehearing or rehearing en banc, meaning before the appeals court rather than a three-judge panel, issuance of the mandate could be further delayed, which in turn will further delay DOE’s compliance with the court’s decision, NARUC said in its filing.
In light of the DOE’s “disposition to delay,” and the “extraordinary delay that the nation’s nuclear waste program has already suffered,” NARUC said it immediately should issue the written mandate.
“It has been almost three and a half years since DOE announced that it would discontinue the nuclear waste program, and it has yet to issue a valid fee adequacy analysis reflecting the end of any semblance of efforts to meet its statutory obligation,” NARUC said in the petition.
“Meanwhile, ratepayers and the nuclear utilities have dutifully continued to pay approximately $750 million each year into the Nuclear Waste Fund. The time for maintaining the status quo has long since passed,” NARUC said.
“Should the Court grant Petitioners’ request for immediate issuance of the mandate, six months from now the Court and Petitioners will know whether DOE has complied with the statute. The sooner DOE conducts a fee adequacy assessment that complies with the statute, the sooner unjust collections of the Nuclear Waste Fund Fee will cease,” NARUC said.
The legal action against DOE was brought by NARUC and the Nuclear Energy Institute.