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An Analysis of Federal Preemption Issues as They Relate to Primary Production Activities in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Stephen J. Lauer, Sharon W. Horndeski, Uranium Exploration and Development

Nationwide, the mining industry is experiencing an increasingly difficult time permitting its operations. As is true of the economy in general, large operators are, in many instances, moving significant portions of their operations overseas. President Bush has decried an “addiction” to foreign sources of oil from which this country must be weaned.1 He has suggested that nuclear electricity generation must be employed as part of the process of reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy.2 Patently, it makes no sense to wean the country from foreign oil, only to have that energy source replaced by an “addiction” to foreign sources of nuclear fuel. Although there has been an encouraging uptick in domestic production of uranium in recent months in response to more favorable market conditions, only approximately 3.6 percent of nuclear fuel consumed by domestic utilities comes from domestic production.3

Despite over a quarter-century of nuclear power generation in this country without a serious incident, there remains significant opposition to the development of nuclear power sources. Well funded and highly committed advocacy groups have attempted to thwart nu- [13B-2] clear power development at all stages of the production and delivery process. However, there is a powerful tool for operators in curtailing these environmental challenges to nuclear electricity generatio