Friday, June 2, 2006
Today, in San Louis Obispo Mothers for Peace v. NRC, the 9th Circuit concluded that the NRC erred in refusing to consider the environmental consequences of a terrorist attack upon nuclear waste storage facility seeking a license. Terrorist Attack and NEPA - 9th Circuit Opinion
While the 9th Circuit rejected several procedural arguments, it reviewed the reasonableness of NRC's decision to exclude impacts from a possible terrorist attack in an EIS. The court dismissed the government's argument that the possibility of a terrorist attack was too remote, speculative, and removed from the actual effects of the agency action -- largely based on NRCs statements about security planning. It rejected the argument that the risk of terrorist attack could not be quantified -- outlining the qualitative discussion that NRC could include in an EIS. It scoffed at the government's argument that conducting such an analysis amounted to a worst case analysis --noting that the CEQ regulations identify the appropriate form of analysis for low probability, high impact events. And it assured the NRC that it could deal appropriately with the sensitive security issues that might be raised by such an analysis.
HT Ross Runkel for spotting the case.