This article will present a concise legal history tracing the development of United States national policy and law relating to the generation, transportation, storage and disposal of the high-level nuclear waste commonly known as "spent nuclear fuel" since the authorization of commercial nuclear power by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. It will identify and discuss the principal outstanding issues of law and policy associated with spent nuclear fuel as the nation undertakes the disaggregation and deregulation of the electric utility industry. The article will describe the principal elements of the nation's transition from an electric utility industry of vertically integrated, regulated monopolies to an industry in which generation is disaggregated from transmission and distribution, and its price is determined by market forces rather than regulatory processes. The article will then evaluate the implications of this transition for the future development of law and policy relating to commercial spent fuel. As its thesis, the article will demonstrate that the emergence of a competitive, deregulated market for electric generation in conjunction with projected increases in the cost of transportation, storage and disposal of spent fuel will precipitate a financing crisis for high-level nuclear waste law and policy as currently conceived. The article will then conclude with policy proposals to resolve this crisis.
Recommended CitationMichael A. Mullett, Financing for Eternity the Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: A Crisis of Law and Policy Precipitated by Electric Deregulation Will Face New President, 18 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 383 (2001)
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/pelr/vol18/iss2/8