Power Grab: Preempting States’ Rights to Turn Off Nuclear Power

Vol. 27 No. 1

Mr. Rumelt is a fellow and staff attorney at the Vermont Law School Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic.

During the expansion of the civilian nuclear power sector in the 1970s, the state of California passed a law prohibiting construction of new nuclear power plants. California was concerned that federal authorities had not approved a plan for the long-term disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Without a viable disposal option, California feared nuclear power would prove a bad investment if the industry continued to grow and temporary storage options became scarce and expensive, potentially leading to reactor shutdowns. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), however, determined that it would be safe to continue licensing reactors.

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