Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Category Archives: Environmental Law

NRC Staff Issues Volume 3 of Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report

News release: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has published Volume 3 of its safety evaluation  report on the proposed underground geologic nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Volume 3 covers the period after a repository at Yucca Mountain would be permanently closed should NRC authorize construction following completion of the remaining steps in the licensing process. Volume 3 contains the staff’s finding that the Department of Energy’s repository design meets
the requirements that apply after the repository is permanently closed, including but not limited to the post-closure performance objectives in NRC’s regulations (in 10 CFR Part 63, Subpart E). These performance objectives include the requirement that the repository be composed of multiple barriers to isolate radioactivity from the environment. The staff also found the proposed repository design meets the NRC’s limits or standards (in 10 CFR Part 63, Subpart L) for individual protection, human intrusion and groundwater protection. The Department of Energy submitted its Yucca Mountain application in June 2008. The NRC staff published Volume 1 (General Information) of the safety evaluation report in August 2010. After DOE moved to withdraw the application and Congress stopped appropriating funds for the NRC’s
review, the agency closed out its application review and published three technical evaluation reports containing the staff’s technical analyses to that point but no regulatory conclusions. The adjudication of nearly 300 contentions filed by various parties contesting the application was also suspended in September 2011. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC in August 2013 to resume the licensing process using currently available funding appropriated from the Nuclear Waste Fund. That court order led to today’s publication of Volume 3. The staff expects to publish volumes 2 (Repository Safety Before Permanent Closure), 4 (Administrative and Programmatic Requirements) and 5 (License Specifications) by January 2015, as they are completed.Publication of Volume 3 does not signal whether the NRC might authorize construction of the repository. A final licensing decision, should funds beyond those currently available be appropriated,could come only after completion of the safety evaluation report, a supplement to the Department of Energy’s environmental impact statement, hearings on contentions in the adjudication, and
Commission review.”

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action

“The Georgetown Climate Center released 100 recommendations … to improve federal programs that could be used to prepare for climate change. The new report will inform the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, draws from a seriesContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Combatting Nuclear Smuggling, CPSC, Ocean Acidification

COMBATING NUCLEAR SMUGGLING: Risk-Informed Covert Assessments and Oversight of Corrective Actions Could Strengthen Capabilities at the Border, GAO-14-826: Published: Sep 22, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 2014: CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: Challenges and Options for Responding to New and Emerging Risks, GAO-15-17: Published: Oct 14, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 2014: “CPSC is responsible for ensuring the safety of thousands ofContinue Reading

The Public Interest Conception of Public Law

Varuhas, Jason N. E., The Public Interest Conception of Public Law: Its Procedural Origins and Substantive Implications (October 12, 2014). Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2508981 “This paper charts the development and identifies the core features of a unitary conception of public law that emerged in English law in the wake of procedural reforms inContinue Reading

Priority Agenda Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources

“The interagency Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience, established by Section 6 of the Order, convened a Climate and Natural Resources Working Group (CNRWG) to complete the inventory, assessment, and plan called for in Section 3 of the Order. The CNRWG includes Departments of Defense, Interior, and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National OceanicContinue Reading

FISHWATCH – U.S. Seafood Facts

“Today, 91 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and about half of this is wild-caught. Because of our interests both as a seafood-consuming nation and a fishing nation, it is critical that NOAA take an active role in shaping the conservation and management of international fisheries. For U.S. consumers of importedContinue Reading

Dead or Alive? Valuing an Elephant

“Elephants are among the world’s most charismatic mega fauna and our largest living land mammals. However, the survival of Africa’s elephants is threatened by continuing demand for ivory desired for trinkets, religious statues, ornaments and accessories from Far Eastern Countries. As a result, elephant poaching is rife across Africa, with elephants being killed even inContinue Reading

Where GMOs hide in your food – Consumer Reports

“More than 70 percent of Americans say they don’t want genetically modified organisms in their food, according to a recent Consumer Reports National Research Center survey of 1,000 adults. The trouble is, it’s hard to avoid them. Consumer Reports’ tests of breakfast cereals, chips, soy infant formulas, and other popular products found that GMOs lurkContinue Reading

The Global Movement and Tracking of Chemical Manufacturing Equipment

“Dual-use applications for chemical manufacturing equipment have been recognized as a concern for many years, and export-control regulations worldwide are in place as a result. These regulations, in conjunction with the verification and inspection requirements of Article VI of the Chemical Weapons Convention, are designed to support non-proliferation of manufacturing equipment suitable for production ofContinue Reading

Living Planet Report 2014

World Wildlife Fund: “The Living Planet Report documents the state of the planet—including biodiversity, ecosystems, and demand on natural resources—and what this means for humans and wildlife. Published by WWF every two years, the report brings together a variety of research to provide a comprehensive view of the health of the earth. Population sizes of vertebrate species—mammals, birds,Continue Reading

NOAA’s Marine Debris Blog

“Marine debris is everyone’s problem. It is a global problem affecting everything from the environment to the economy; from fishing and navigation to human health and safety; from the tiniest coral polyps to giant blue whales. Marine debris also comes in many forms, from a cigarette butt to a 4,000-pound derelict fishing net. Marine debris is aContinue Reading

U.S. coal exports fall on lower European demand, increased global supply

EIA: “U.S. coal exports have continued to decline from their record volumes in 2012. During the first half of 2014, coal exports totaled 52.3 million short tons (MMst), 16% below the same period in 2013. Most of these exports go to countries in Europe and Asia. Export declines reflect both lower European demand for steamContinue Reading