You Can Ask the NRC to Change Its Rules

Jennifer Borges
Regulations Specialist

One of the ways the public can take part in NRC actions involves asking the agency to issue new rules or change existing ones. The NRC’s website describes this “petition for rulemaking” process in detail, including how to submit a petition and what information the NRC needs in order to consider the request.

publicopinionnewAt its most basic, a petition needs to explain the issue and why the petitioner believes action is needed. The petition should include whatever supporting information is available. One example of a successful petition involved revising NRC requirements for emergency planning at nuclear power plants. The petition led to a new rule that allows state and local governments to include stockpiles of potassium iodide for possible use in the event of an emergency at a nuclear power plant.

Starting the process can be as simple as consulting with the NRC before filing a petition. We’ll provide information about the process, our regulations, and what we understand about the issues you intend to raise. If a petition falls short of the legal requirements, we’ll explain how to meet our criteria. The petitioner then has the chance to send us more information.

When petitions meet the requirements, we enter them in our review process and announce our review in the Federal Register. If public comment can play a role in resolving the petition, the Federal Register notice explains how the public can provide their views.

The NRC staff then evaluates the petition and any public comments to decide whether to start our rulemaking process. We stay in contact with the petitioner with periodic updates on the status of the staff’s work on the petition.

If we deny a petition we announce the decision in the Federal Register and explain our reasons. We also respond to any public comments on the petition.

If we accept a petition for consideration in our rulemaking process, the Federal Register notice explains how we intend to move forward. We also describe how the public can keep track of the NRC’s actions on the petition. If the NRC issues a proposed or final rule related to the petition, our Federal Register notice on the rule will explain how we have addressed the petition’s concerns.

We’re currently updating our rulemaking petition process with a proposed rule we issued on May 3, 2013 (78 FR 25886). The revisions would:

  • Expand a petitioner’s access to the NRC by allowing consultation with our staff both before and after filing a petition for rulemaking;
  • Improve the content requirements for a petition for rulemaking;
  • Clarify our evaluation criteria;
  • Explain our internal process for receiving, closing and resolving a petition; and
  • Update information for tracking the status of petitions and subsequent rulemaking actions.


The NRC’s other petition process allows anyone to ask the agency to take an enforcement action against a nuclear power plant or other NRC licensee. We discussed these processes on the blog in 2011.


Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

11 thoughts on “You Can Ask the NRC to Change Its Rules”

  1. Aloha NRC,

    If you are to regulate, you must exert authority.

    When Excelon was found to be $1B short in their decomm fund, you should have fined them 10% on the spot, and 10% every month on the balance under.

    Also, I propose a new rule for the NRC. The decomm fund needs to be more than “an account” or a promise from a parent company. Those are almost laughable…..a company going bankrupt can easily divert the money. The decomm fund needs to be in an escrow type of account, one that the NRC was review at will and get automatic reports on. Even the investments and investment changes in the excrow account would need approval by NRC.

    What say you?

    here is the story

  2. We’ve checked into meeting your request for the listing and, unfortunately, it cannot be “processed” through the blog, as meeting it would require extensive personnel resources. To put this request to us formally, please send an email to: . It will then be assigned for review and response directly back to you.


  3. Jennifer – How about an estimate of how long it would take a “a Regulations Specialist” to put the requested listing together; I’m sure it would be informative for everyone concerned, since the NRC is the one asking for input from the public. If the number of hours is low, then I’ll be happy to ask the Office of the Chairman to request it be done. Thank you and all the Regulations Specialists for your efforts!

  4. Most rule changes are initiated by the NRC, not by petitions from the public. The report lists actions published during the year in the order that follows the steps of a typical rulemaking. We can consider your suggestion to list Petitions for Rulemaking first when we prepare the next report.

    To follow a petition or rule through the process, visiting our Petition for Rulemaking and Rulemaking Web pages at and . From these pages you can access the docket for each petition or rule activity on The docket contains all publicly-available documents related to the rule or petition.

    You can subscribe to these NRC Web pages. At the bottom of either of these pages, under “Stay Connected,” click on “GovDelivery.” From here you will need to enter your e-mail address and click “Submit.” Then you will subscribe by checking the boxes next to the items for which you would like to receive updates, then clicking “Submit” again.

    You can also subscribe to receive alerts when changes or additions occur in a docket folder on the Federal Rulemaking Web Site, To subscribe: Navigate to a docket folder by searching by the Docket ID; click on the “Sign up for E-mail Alerts” link; and enter your e-mail address and select how frequently you would like to receive e-mails (daily, weekly or monthly).

    I hope this is helpful.

    Jennifer Borges

  5. Scott – Thanks, perhaps you and/or Jennifer can now help us understand what all the listing language really means!

    In 2013 of the 14 petitions for Rulemaking Action how do we know how many were finally adopted?

    Also these charts are so verbose that I don’t believe that they make much sense except to those that use them daily! I’m sure that some Rulemaking Actions extend beyond the year they were submitted, and that would be hard to quantify from the current listing!

    Question: Are these listed in the order they progress through the NRC system?
    ==> If not, why not, since it would be so much easier to follow the adoption process?
    ==> If so, why are the Petition for Rulemaking listed halfway down, when I would expect
    they would be listed first, since they would start the entire review process?

    Perhaps a Regulations Specialist that can works with these charts daily could provide a simplistic 10 year chart that lists the number of Rulemaking Petitions that were submitted (by the nuclear industry as compared to the public) and how many finally got accepted, which hopefully resulted in Rulemaking changes… If a Regulations Specialist at the NRC cannot do that in an hour or two then I suggest that the current accounting system needs changing, (no pun intended) because if the process is so involved that things almost never get changed, especially if those proposed changes are made by the public then that should ring alarm bells for both the Chairman and Regulators of the NRC.

  6. Read Ms. Borges’ post again, carefully. The petition process is not supplanted by a utopian screed on a blog site, no matter how repetitious.

  7. Stock – Because the NRC has allowed the use of High burn-up fuel they cannot store it in approved png term casks because none exist… The NRC should immediately stop allowing the use of High Burn-Up fuel until caste for transportation and long term storage are tested and available!

    See more about High Burn-Up fuels and the problems generated by allowing its use:

  8. Ask NRC to change its rules

    1) Dry cask immediately, no later than 5 years

    2) No delay on returning plants to Greenfield, no 60 year “zone of bankruptcy” joke period.

    3) Criminal charges similar to OSHA for knowingly and willingly cheating the rules, like San Onofre.

    4) Ramp up money set aside for decomm, right now they ask for $105M, but each plant will be at least $500M to $1000M. Force a study this year to predict decomm cost, and require at least $500M set aside in an Escrow account.

    stock out

  9. Excellent Idea CaptD. I like the fact that the NRC is trying to increase perception of responsiveness, although I am still concerned that with the sacking of Jackzo that regulatory ability is still limited.

  10. Jennifer – I’d like to see the NRC post the number of proposed rule changes vs the number of changes actually made per year for the last 10 years, I believe those statics would help everyone understand why the NRC is in need of a major overhaul in the way it serves the public.

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