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San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace v. NRC

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20101
Nos. No. 03-74628, (9th Cir., 06/02/2006)

The court holds that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by categorically refusing to consider the environmental effects of a potential terrorist attack in connection with its approval of a proposed spent fuel storage installation. The NRC argued that the possibility of a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility is so remote and speculative that the potential consequences of such an attack need not be considered at all during a NEPA review. But none of the factors on which the NRC relies to eschew consideration of the environmental effects of a terrorist attack satisfies the standard of reasonableness. Considering the policy goals of NEPA and the rule of reasonableness that governs its application, the possibility of a terrorist attack is not so "remote and highly speculative" as to be beyond NEPA's requirements. The court, however, rejects petitioners' claims for review under the Atomic Energy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.