Committee Asks GAO to Further Look into NRC’s Fee Collection Methods
WASHINGTON, DC – As part of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s ongoing oversight to ensure efficient Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) operations; committee members, in June of 2015, requested that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the NRC’s budget development process and fee collection determination in order to increase agency accountability.
GAO today publically released the committee requested report and concluded, “NRC’s fee rule and supporting documents did not clearly present the information that stakeholders need in order to understand fee calculations and provide substantive comments to the agency. Until NRC clearly defines and consistently uses key terms, provides complete calculations and explanations for the fees, and ensure the accuracy of its fee and work papers, industry stakeholders’ understanding of the NRC’s fee calculations may remain limited. … Without setting performance goals and measure, NRC cannot effectively assess the extent to which its actions are improving transparency and timeliness.”
Based on data and feedback GAO gathered to inform its report, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Senate EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), and Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee Chairman Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), sent a follow up letter to GAO on February 8, 2017, requesting GAO further examine NRC’s billing and collection methods. In the letter members wrote, “Licensees have raised concerns that NRC’s invoices lack transparency, meaning they do not contain sufficient detail to substantiate charges. … Some licensees have voiced concerns that NRC’s activity codes are confusing to understand and do not allow a licensee to track invoiced amounts to specific activities. Due to this confusion, some licensees have reported that they are being charged multiple times for the same activity and are questioning the reliability of NRC’s billing process.”
Informed by GAO’s report and ongoing feedback, committee members Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), today introduced H.R. 1320, the Nuclear Utilization of Keynote Energy (NUKE) Act, which would;
- Provide financial certainty for NRC licensees who fund the agency through annual fees;
- Increase efficiency in the NRC’s licensing and regulatory processes; and,
- Direct an examination of antiquated and burdensome requirements that inhibit growth of nuclear power.
“The NUKE Act will create more certainty for nuclear plant operations, without compromising safety, and encourage greater investment for the next generation of nuclear power,” stated Rep. Kinzinger. “I’m excited to introduce this bipartisan legislation today as we take steps to make the regulatory process more efficient and transparent. Nuclear power is incredibly important for the district I represent, and for the country.”
“Clean, safe nuclear power produces zero emissions while powering local communities in both Michigan and across the country, but unnecessary and onerous regulatory requirements create undue burdens that limit nuclear power from reaching its full potential,” concluded Subcommittee on Energy Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “These GAO reports coupled with Rep. Kinzinger’s bill will provide us an important path forward when it comes to addressing these issues. It’s imperative the NRC remain transparent and accountable to industry stakeholders, licensees, and the American people. I appreciate the bipartisan and bicameral interest in improving the regulatory environment for nuclear energy stakeholders. Public confidence in the NRC is critical to protecting public health and safety; we must get this right.”