Texas v. NRC: America’s Trumpiest court just put itself in charge of nuclear safety
Writing for Vox, Ian Millhiser characterizes the decision as radioactive, even by the very low standards of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
In a nutshell:
In a contentious decision, the right-leaning United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, has taken an unprecedented step in asserting its authority over the nation's nuclear safety. The case, titled Texas v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, revolves around the NRC's licensing of a temporary storage facility for "high-level spent nuclear fuel" in Texas. Despite lacking any specialized expertise in nuclear science, notes Millhiser, Judge James Ho, along with fellow conservative colleagues, ruled against the NRC's decision, contending that the agency's authority had been misconstrued. This decision disrupts the long-established authority of nuclear policy regulators and raises questions about the practicalities of safely managing nuclear waste in the absence of their oversight. This ruling may also prompt a review by the Supreme Court due to disparities between circuit court decisions and the critical nature of the subject matter.
The Fifth Circuit "appears to be in the middle of an open-ended effort to diminish US state capacity, regardless of whether there is any valid legal basis for doing so. That’s a very destructive thing for a federal court to do. But, at least so far, even our current, very conservative Supreme Court has shown little patience for this crusade," notes Millhiser.
The big picture:
The failure to implement effective strategies for the safe storage and disposal of nuclear waste could lead to heightened radiation exposure, jeopardizing public health and safety. Prolonged exposure to radioactive materials can result in increased rates of cancer, genetic mutations and other severe health conditions. The absence of rigorous waste management protocols could also lead to environmental contamination, impacting ecosystems and water sources.
Read the article at Vox.
What's with the Fifth Circuit? It's also responsible for a 1991 ruling that allowed asbestos to be used in the United States in a wide array of commercial and consumer products, including automotive brake components, cement pipe, sheets and shingles, roofing, vinyl floor tile and even some clothing.