I’ve found some more info on the NRC’s take on Minnesota legislation that the agency thinks is going too far, where the agency opinion is that the NRC has jurisdiction and that some Minnesota legislation is encroaching on that jurisdiction.


Here’s the document I found originally:


Here’s the approval of the NRC of the Agreement that the Pawlenty administration had requested, an agreement that gives the state limited jurisdiction over some small nuclear matters:

Commission Voting Record

November 2, 2005

Here’s what the Chair, Nils Diaz, of the NRC had to say:

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Chairman Diaz’s Comments on SECY-05-0170

I approve the staff’s recommendation to proceed with processing the State of Minnesota agreement application pursuant to Section 274 (b) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. While I understand the concerns expressed by the Team Leader, I believe that the staffs recommendation is sound and appropriate. In addition, I support Commissioner Merrifield in requesting that the General Counsel prepare an options paper for the
Commission’s consideration on possible approaches to the handling of preemption issues.

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Commissioner McGaffigan wants staff to get right on it:

Somewhat reluctantly, I approve the staff’s recommendation to complete processing of the Minnesota Agreement application. I am concerned with the preemption issues that were included in this paper and I commend the Team Leader for raising them. I believe these concerns were insightful and significant enough to be raised. I also want to commend the staff for putting together a paper which included the Team Leader’s concerns. This allows the Commission to make informed decisions on these important issues.

I agree with Commissioner Jaczko that NRC’s authority is clear, and I too am a strong believer in preserving our authority. NRC has spent significant resources over the last few years ensuring that other agencies do not encroach into our jurisdiction and attempt to apply inappropriate security requirements on our licensees. In the decommissioning area, we have expended a great deal of time and effort working with EPA to reduce dual regulation. This case should not be any different.

The staff should work with Minnesota, and any other State where we are aware of preemption issues, and try to resolve the issues. I look forward to the options paper requested from OGC by Commissioner Merrifield on possible methods to address this issue.

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Here’s what Commissioner Merrifield had to say:

I understand the concern raised by the Team Leader. While I do not believe that this issue affects the proposed Agreement with the State of Minnesota, I would like to see the Commission take a more aggressive posture in challenging State actions on preemption issues. I also agree with the Office of the Inspector General that a formal written policy on how the agency will address possible preemption issues is necessary. To this end, I would request that the General Counsel prepare an options paper for the Commission’s consideration on possible approaches to the handling of preemption issues, including the resource implications for the implementation of any new agency policy.

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On a different vein, here’s Commissioner Jaczko’s Comments:

Only the NRC has the authority and responsibility under the AEA to regulate nuclear power
reactor operations, and I am a firm believer in preserving the authorities of the agency. Therefore, the State of Minnesota should not be setting standards for exposure levels at independent spent fuel storage installations located at nuclear power facilities. I applaud the staff for bringing this difficult issue to the attention of the Commission because of the potential policy questions it raises.

The Agency’s mission, however, is to protect the public health and safety. Minnesota’s actions to create a more restrictive standard in no way threatens that mission. The NRC has set the precedent that when a democratically elected state government decides its citizens demand additional preventive measures be taken against radiological hazards, and the involved parties do not object, the NRC does not pro-actively work to undermine that effort.

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And Commissioner Lyons is much less concerned than the others:

I am aware that Minnesota may have statutes and regulations that could potentially intrude into
areas reserved to the Commission. These state statutes and regulations, however, do not concern areas over which Minnesota is seeking authority as part of the agreement with NRC. In this regard, I believe that the staff is correct that a finding of compatibility of a State’s program with NRC’s program is a matter separate from possible Federal preemption issues. In addition, nothing in the proposed agreement with Minnesota precludes the staff from
addressing possible preemption issues should it wish to do so in the future.

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