In re: Aiken County, No. 10-1050 (D.C. Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Three state and local governmental units, along with individual citizens, petitioned the court for review of and other relief from two "determinations" made by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the other respondents: the DOE's attempt to withdraw the application it submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to construct a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada; and the DOE's apparent decision to abandon development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository. The court concluded that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 10101-270, set forth a process and schedule for the siting, construction, and operation of a federal repository for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. At this point in that process, the DOE had submitted a construction license application for the Yucca Mountain repository and the NRC maintained a statutory duty to review that application. Therefore, the court held that unless and until petitioners were able to demonstrate that one of the respondents had either violated a clear duty to act or otherwise affirmatively violated the law, petitioners' challenges to the ongoing administrative process was premature. Accordingly, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction over petitioners' claims and dismissed the petitions.