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Regulating Atomic Energy in the American Federal System

Joseph F. Zimmerman
Publius
Vol. 18, No. 3, The State of American Federalism, 1987 (Summer, 1988), pp. 51-65
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3330272
Page Count: 15
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Regulating Atomic Energy in the American Federal System
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Abstract

Congress totally preempted the regulation of ionizing radiation in 1946. In 1954 it authorized the private development and use of atomic energy. In 1959, Congress authorized the Atomic Energy Commission to enter into agreements with states under which a state can assume certain regulatory responsibilities. As of 1987, twenty-nine states had signed agreements. Congress has enacted several statutes structuring national-state relations in the field of atomic energy since the Atomic Energy Act of 1959. The Low Level Radioactive Policy Act of 1980 makes states responsible for disposing of low-level radioactive wastes generated within their respective borders. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established a procedure for locating a site for a high-level waste facility. The Secretary of Energy can select a site subject to a veto by a governor or state legislature and an override of the veto by Congress. Two major regulatory developments occurred in 1987. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission amended its rules and regulations to allow the licensing of new nuclear power plants in the absence of state and local government participation in emergency evacuation plans for residents living near such plants. In addition, Congress disregarded its 1982 procedure for selecting a high-level radioactive waste site by choosing Nevada as the site.

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