Our New, Improved Petition for Rulemaking Process

Jennifer Borges
Regulations Specialist

A Typical PETITION for Rulemaking Process graphic_ICONS_vert_r12finalAfter several years of work, the NRC has issued a final rule that amends the process we follow whenever someone asks the agency to issue new rules or change existing ones. We call this our petition for rulemaking (PRM) process, and it is described in sections 2.802 and 2.803 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The final rule became effective Nov. 6.

As we said in our previous blog, “You Can Ask the NRC to Change Its Rules” (May 2014), the revisions expand a petitioner’s access to the NRC by allowing consultation with our staff both before and after filing a petition for rulemaking. The revisions also restructure and clarify 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.

So that you can better understand how to submit a petition, the NRC staff has updated the rulemaking petition process website and posted a new backgrounder that explains the PRM process in plain language.

Anyone needing help with the process may contact the NRC. The NRC staff can describe the process for filing, docketing, tracking, closing, amending, withdrawing and resolving petitions for rulemaking. The staff also can provide status information. Our Petition for Rulemaking Docket website also has status information on all petitions for rulemaking dating back to 1999. The petitions are organized by the year they were docketed. You can visit this website to check on issues that may interest you.

Incidentally, when we “docket” a petition, it means the petition and all related documents will be put in an electronic file for the public to read. We docket only the petitions that include the required information, raise an issue that warrants further consideration and ask for a change that is within the NRC’s legal authority. After the petition is docketed the NRC begins to evaluate the issues the petitioner raises to determine if they should be considered in rulemaking.

The NRC currently has 20 petitions under review. In 2015 so far we have docketed six PRMs. Three address whether to change the basis for our radiation protection standards. The others deal with whether “important to safety” needs to be better defined; whether the NRC should require temperature monitoring devices in the core of nuclear power reactors; and whether to make certain optional risk-informed regulations more widely available.

If we are taking comments on a petition, there will be a “comment now” button that takes you to a Web form you can use to communicate with us. You can even receive an alert when something is added to the docket. To subscribe, click on the docket link, then click “sign up for email alerts” on the right-hand side.

We were recognized last year for our work in educating the public about how to submit a petition. A November 2014 report to the Administrative Conference of the United States applauds the NRC for regularly communicating with petitioners and reporting on the status of petitions. We hope you agree and find our new rule makes our process even better.


Author: Moderator

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

4 thoughts on “Our New, Improved Petition for Rulemaking Process”

  1. There is a history of licensees violating the rules; the public reporting this; and the NRC refusing to follow up, or inventing its own rules to avoid even listening to the reports of licenses violating the rules.

    Frankly, why should we trust you to enforce any rules you make? You’ve ignored massive safety concerns repeatedly in the past, and gone out of your way to suppress and ignore legitimate problems. You have repeatedly bent over backwards to extend the licenses of plants where the operators have a long record of safety violations, including San Onofre, Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim, and Nine Mile Point — many of which closed anyway for economic reasons.

    You need to do something to prove that you’re not owned wholesale by the nuclear industry any more. A method of making petitions to force the NRC to enforce the official rules regarding the conditions for license renewal, rather than disregarding all evidence and rubberstamping all license renewals, would be more useful.

  2. The sad fact is that NRC “Rules” have been and are going to be determined by Congress, since they have oversight of the NRC. Gone are the days when Congress spent most of its time looking for poor spending habits instead of what we have now, which is Congress working harder than ever to remove as many regulations as possible for their Nuclear Industry donors.

    Yucca Mountain is a perfect example of good science saying N☢, yet Congress thinks it knows better because they are primarily interested in continuing to receive ever more Nuclear Payback* from their donors. This is exactly what caused Fukushima, yet the NRC is now going down the same sad regulatory road.

    Another example is SCE who self designed replacement steam generators then ran them outside their NRC approved “red line” which led to the multi-billion destruction of San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. The NRC only gave them a “white finding” with no financial penalty partially because the NRC was part of the problem by allowing SCE to use 10CFR 50.59 instead of 10CFR 50.90. The May 13, 2013 NRC Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) ruling was crystal clear, SCE management violated the 10CFR 50.59 and General Design Criterion 14 during the design and operation of replacement steam generators, which lead to the retirement and decommissioning of San Onofre Units 2 & 3.

    * http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Nuclear+payback

    Those that support nuclear power because nuclear power somehow supports them; no matter what the health implications or other “costs” are for others.

  3. I appreciate the NRC’s diligence in their work. I agree with the public pit bull on the rules and their use in this rather rogue industry. I think this nu commitment to creating, amending and changing the rules will give the people footing who see the way to craft a nuclear policy that empowers humanity rather than threatens them as the Nuclear Industry does today. Thank you @NRC for your work and to your teeth to wrestle the most powerful people on the planet to think differently than they want to sometimes. =) #fuqafukushima #ClimateAction

  4. New rules a total waste of time with the NRC as you do not enforce the ones you have on the books already. In fact you have avoided important rulemaking by allowing the nuclear industry to come up their own initiatives which you know are not rigorous and cannot even be enforced. Plus you have relaxed regulations at the industry’s request. Why have rulemaking when you allow rule-breaking?!

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