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Mississippi Power & Light Co. v. NRC

Citation: 9 ELR 20655
No. Nos. 78-1565 et al., 601 F.2d 223/13 ERC 1569/(5th Cir., 08/24/1979)

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) schedule of fees for the recovery from license applicants of the costs of processing license applications and conducting safety inspections and environmental reviews. The case law interpreting Title V of the Independent Offices Appropriation Act indicates that this statutory provision empowers the NRC to assess a fee for its activities which bestow a special benefit upon an identifiable party. The court rules that the NRC has full authority to assess fees against license applicants under the statute because a license is a prerequisite to operating a nuclear facility and thus confers a special benefit upon the licensee. The court then holds that the NRC is not required to segregate the public and private benefits that flow from a particular action and charge applicants only for the latter. The Commission may recover the full cost of providing a service to the applicant, regardless of the incidental benefit to the public at large. The court reviews and affirms the NRC's apecific assessments for routine health and safety inspections, environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, and the costs of uncontested license hearings, noting that these actions or proceedings are all statutory requisites for the issuance or retention of a license. Finally, the court also approves the NRC's assessment of a fee for renewal of a license to operate a low-level radioactive waste burial site, concluding that it represents a reasonable estimate of the actual costs incurred by the Commission in taking such action.

Counsel for Petitioners
Troy B. Conner
Conner, Moore & Corber
1747 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 833-3500

Counsel for Respondents
Irwin B. Rothschild, III
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2701

Before GEWIN, HILL and FAY Circuit Judges.