Rep. Mike Levin is again looking to push through legislation in Congress that seeks to facilitate further public participation in the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s actions.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee discussed Levin’s NRC Office of Public Engagement and Participation Act, otherwise known as H.R. 4530, during a July 18 hearing, but no reportable action has been released since.
The bill, introduced earlier this month, would create an Office of Public Engagement and Participation within the NRC, tasked with providing “educational, legal and technical guidance and assistance” to citizens submitting comments and hearing requests for NRC proceedings.
In a mid-July press release, Levin, who represents the 49th Congressional District that includes the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), said the proposed office would increase the public’s confidence in the NRC and lend to rebuilding citizens’ trust.
“Our communities deserve to have their voices heard by the regulatory agency in charge of handling important nuclear safety issues, but oftentimes there is no clear line of communication between the public and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” said Levin.
After a year of the office’s existence, the body would be required to submit a report detailing the most common difficulties citizens faced in participating in NRC proceedings.
Levin first introduced the bill as H.R. 9215 during the 117th Congress in October 2022, but after being referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee and further to the Subcommittee on Energy, the bill didn’t go any further.
“I am proud to reintroduce this bill to create an Office of Public Engagement and Participation within the NRC to bridge the gap between the Commission and the public throughout the regulatory process,” Levin added in the release.
Levin touched on the Department of Energy’s ongoing effort to get various U.S. communities’ consent in hosting permanent and temporary repositories to stores nuclear waste from the nation’s power plants, including SONGS.
In early June, Levin joined DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm at SONGS to announce the list of institutions across the U.S. awarded with grants to help in the process of identifying a host for an interim storage facility.
“As we continue our work to rebuild communities’ trust on issues related to spent nuclear fuel and advance the consent-based siting process,” Levin added, “I believe that the Office of Public Engagement and Participation will be a key tool to foster greater confidence and understanding. I look forward to this bill moving through the legislative process.”