[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 170 (Wednesday, September 3, 2014)]
[Pages 52373-52374]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-20976]




Environmental Issues Associated With New Reactors

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Interim staff guidance; issuance.


SUMMARY: The U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff is issuing 
its final Interim Staff Guidance (ISG) Combined License and Early Site 
Permit (COL/ESP) No. 026 (COL/ESP-ISG-026), ``Environmental Issues 
Associated with New Reactors.'' The purpose of this ISG is to clarify 
the NRC guidance and application of NUREG-1555, ``Standard Review Plans 
for Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power Plants: Environmental 
Standard Review Plan,'' regarding the assessment of construction 
impacts, greenhouse gas and climate change, socioeconomics, 
environmental justice, need for power, alternatives, cumulative 
impacts, and cultural/historical resources as part of the preparation 
of environmental impact statements for early site permit (ESP) and 
combined license (COL) applications.

DATES: The effective date of this COL/ESP-ISG-026 is October 3, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2013-0212 when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information regarding this document. You 
may obtain publicly-available information related to this document 
using any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2013-0212. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-287-
3442; email: [email protected]. For technical questions, contact 
the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may obtain publicly-available documents online in the 
ADAMS Public Documents collection http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and 
then select ``Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, 
please contact the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 
1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by email to [email protected]. For 
the convenience of the reader, the ADAMS accession numbers are provided 
in a table in the ``Availability of Documents'' section of this 
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.
     The agency posts its issued staff guidance in the agency 
external Web page (http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/isg).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tanya Hood, Office of New Reactors, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; 
telephone at 301-415-1387 or email at [email protected].

Availability of Documents

    The documents identified in the following table are available to 
interested persons through one or more of the following methods, as 

[[Page 52374]]

                                         Proposed Revision ADAMS  Accession
            Document title                              No.                      Redline ADAMS  Accession No.
Interim Staff Guidance-026,             ML14092A402........................  ML13350A059.
 Environmental Issues Associated with
 New Reactors.
Attachment 1--Staff Guidance for        ML14100A157........................  ML13350A134.
 Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change
Attachment 2--Staff Guidance for        ML14100A535........................  ML13350A399.
 Socioeconomics and Environmental
Attachment 3--Staff Guidance for        ML14100A025........................  ML13347B223.
 Cultural and Historical Resources.
Attachment 4--Staff Guidance for        ML14100A454........................  ML13347B214.
 Cumulative Impacts.
Attachment 5--Staff Guidance for Need   ML14100A461........................  ML13350A444.
 for Power.
Attachment 6--Staff Guidance for        ML14100A471........................  ML13347B173.

         ADAMS  Accession No.                    Document title
ML14049A011...........................  Interim Staff Guidance 26-27
                                         Comment Resolution Summary
ML13347B127...........................  Interim Staff Guidance 26-27
                                         Comment Resolution Detailed

    The NRC staff issues COL/ESP-ISGs to facilitate timely 
implementation of current staff guidance and to facilitate activities 
associated with review of applications for ESPs, design certifications, 
and COLs by the Office of New Reactors. The NRC staff intends to 
incorporate the final approved COL/ESP-ISG-026 into the next revision 
of the Environmental Standard Review Plan and related guidance 
    The NRC posts all final ISGs on the NRC's public Web page at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/isg/, which is where the public 
may easily obtain access to COL/ESP-ISG-026.

Backfitting and Issue Finality

    Issuance of this ISG does not constitute backfitting as defined in 
Sec.  50.109 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 
(the Backfit Rule), or be regarded as backfitting under Commission and 
Executive Director for Operations guidance, and is not otherwise 
inconsistent with the issue finality provisions in 10 CFR part 52. The 
NRC staff's position is based upon the following considerations.
    1. The ISG positions do not constitute backfitting, inasmuch as the 
ESRP is internal guidance to NRC staff
    The ISG provides interim guidance to the staff on how to review an 
application for NRC regulatory approval in the form of licensing. 
Changes in internal staff guidance are not matters for which either 
nuclear power plant applicants or licensees are protected under either 
the Backfit Rule or the issue finality provisions of 10 CFR part 52.
    2. Backfitting and issue finality do not--with limited exceptions 
not applicable here--protect current or future applicants
    Applicants are not, with certain exceptions, protected by either 
the Backfit Rule or any issue finality provisions under 10 CFR part 52. 
This is because neither the Backfit Rule nor the issue finality 
provisions under 10 CFR part 52--with certain exclusions discussed 
below--were intended to apply to every NRC action which substantially 
changes the expectations of current and future applicants.
    The exceptions to the general principle are applicable whenever an 
applicant references a 10 CFR part 52 license (e.g., an ESP) and/or NRC 
regulatory approval (e.g., a design certification rule) with specified 
issue finality provisions. The staff does not, at this time, intend to 
impose the positions represented in the ISG in a manner that is 
inconsistent with any issue finality provisions. If, in the future, the 
staff seeks to impose a position in the ISG in a manner which does not 
provide issue finality as described in the applicable issue finality 
provision, then the staff must address the criteria for avoiding issue 
finality as described in the applicable issue finality provision.
    3. The NRC's consideration of environmental impacts to address the 
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) 
are outside the scope of matters subject to backfitting protection, and 
are not a violation of issue finality provisions
    The NRC's consideration of environmental impacts to address the 
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 
and an applicant's submission of environmental information needed to 
support the NRC's consideration of environmental impacts under NEPA, do 
not fall within the scope of matters which constitute backfitting. 
Consideration of environmental impacts to address NEPA compliance falls 
within the scope of matters protected under issue finality provisions 
of an ESP and a COL application referencing an ESP. However, this 
protection applies only after an ESP is issued, or if a COL application 
references an ESP. The NRC staff does not intend to apply the guidance 
to already-issued ESPs or COL applications referencing an ESP. 
Therefore, issuance of this ISG does not constitute a violation or 
inconsistency of the issue finality provisions applicable to ESPs or 
COL applications referencing an ESP.

Congressional Review Act

    This ISG is a rule as defined in the Congressional Review Act (5 
U.S.C. 801-808). However, the Office of Management and Budget has not 
found it to be a major rule as defined in the Congressional Review Act.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 25th day of August, 2014.
    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Joseph Colaccino,
Chief, Policy Branch, Division of Advanced Reactor and Rulemaking, 
Office of New Reactors.
[FR Doc. 2014-20976 Filed 9-2-14; 8:45 am]