The turning of swords into plowshares has symbolized the transformation of atomic power into a source of energy in
This case emerges from the intersection of the Federal Government's efforts to ensure that nuclear power is safe with the exercise of the historic state authority over the generation and sale of electricity. At issue is whether provisions in the 1976 amendments to California's Warren-Alquist Act, Cal. Pub. Res. Code Ann. §§ 25524.1(b) and 25524.2 (West 1977), which condition the construction of nuclear plants on findings by the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission that adequate storage facilities and means of disposal are available for nuclear waste,
A nuclear reactor must be periodically refueled and the "spent fuel" removed. This spent fuel is intensely radioactive and must be carefully stored. The general practice is to store the fuel in a water-filled pool at the reactor site. For many years, it was assumed that this fuel would be reprocessed; accordingly, the storage pools were designed as short-term holding facilities with limited storage capacities. As expectations for reprocessing remained unfulfilled, the spent fuel accumulated in the storage pools, creating the risk that nuclear reactors would have to be shut down. This could occur if there were insufficient room in the pool to store spent fuel and also if there were not enough space to hold the entire fuel core when certain inspections or emergencies required unloading of the reactor. In recent years, the problem has taken on special urgency. Some 8,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel have already accumulated, and it is projected that by the year 2000 there will be some 72,000 metric tons of spent fuel.
The California laws at issue here are responses to these concerns. In 1974, California adopted the Warren-Alquist State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Act, Cal. Pub. Res. Code Ann. § 25000-25986 (West 1977 and Supp. 1983). The Act requires that a utility seeking to build in California any electric power generating plant, including a nuclear powerplant, must apply for certification to the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission).
Two sections of these amendments are before us. Section 25524.1(b) provides that before additional nuclear plants may be built, the Energy Commission must determine on a case-by-case basis that there will be "adequate capacity" for storage of a plant's spent fuel rods "at the time such nuclear facility requires such . . . storage." The law also requires that each utility provide continuous, on-site, "full core reserve storage capacity" in order to permit storage of the entire reactor
Section 25524.2 deals with the long-term solution to nuclear wastes. This section imposes a moratorium on the certification of new nuclear plants until the Energy Commission "finds that there has been developed and that the United States through its authorized agency has approved and there exists a demonstrated technology or means for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste." "Disposal" is defined as a "method for the permanent and terminal disposition of high-level nuclear waste . . . ." §§ 25524.2(a), (c). Such a finding must be reported to the state legislature, which may nullify it.
In 1978, petitioners Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison Co. filed this action in the United States District Court, requesting a declaration that numerous provisions of the Warren-Alquist Act, including the two sections challenged here, are invalid under the Supremacy Clause because they are pre-empted by the Atomic Energy Act. The District Court held that petitioners had standing to challenge §§ 25524.1(b) and 25524.2,
We granted certiorari limited to the questions of whether §§ 25524.1(b) and 25524.2 are ripe for judicial review, and whether they are pre-empted by the Atomic Energy Act. 457 U.S. 1132 (1982).
We agree that the challenge to § 25524.2 is ripe for judicial review, but that the questions concerning § 25524.1(b) are not. The basic rationale of the ripeness doctrine "is to prevent the courts, through avoidance of premature adjudication, from entangling themselves in abstract disagreements over administrative policies, and also to protect the agencies from judicial interference until an administrative decision has been formalized and its effects felt in a concrete way by the challenging parties." Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136,
Both of these factors counsel in favor of finding the challenge to the waste disposal regulations in § 25524.2 ripe for adjudication. The question of pre-emption is predominantly legal, and although it would be useful to have the benefit of California's interpretation of what constitutes a demonstrated technology or means for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste, resolution of the pre-emption issue need not await that development. Moreover, postponement of decision would likely work substantial hardship on the utilities. As the Court of Appeals cogently reasoned, for the utilities to proceed in hopes that, when the time for certification came, either the required findings would be made or the law would be struck down, requires the expenditures of millions of dollars over a number of years, without any certainty of recovery if certification were denied.
It is well established that within constitutional limits Congress may pre-empt state authority by so stating in express terms. Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525 (1977). Absent explicit pre-emptive language, Congress' intent
Petitioners, the United States, and supporting amici, present three major lines of argument as to why § 25524.2 is pre-empted. First, they submit that the statute — because it regulates construction of nuclear plants and because it is allegedly predicated on safety concerns — ignores the division between federal and state authority created by the Atomic Energy Act, and falls within the field that the Federal Government has preserved for its own exclusive control. Second, the statute, and the judgments that underlie it, conflict with decisions concerning the nuclear waste disposal issue made by Congress and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Third, the California statute frustrates the federal goal of developing nuclear technology as a source of energy. We consider each of these contentions in turn.
Even a brief perusal of the Atomic Energy Act reveals that, despite its comprehensiveness, it does not at any point expressly require the States to construct or authorize nuclear powerplants or prohibit the States from deciding, as an absolute or conditional matter, not to permit the construction of any further reactors. Instead, petitioners argue that the Act is intended to preserve the Federal Government as the sole regulator of all matters nuclear, and that § 25524.2 falls within the scope of this impliedly pre-empted field. But as we view the issue, Congress, in passing the 1954 Act and in subsequently amending it, intended that the Federal Government should regulate the radiological safety aspects involved in the construction and operation of a nuclear plant, but that the States retain their traditional responsibility in the field of regulating electrical utilities for determining questions of need, reliability, cost, and other related state concerns.
Need for new power facilities, their economic feasibility, and rates and services, are areas that have been characteristically governed by the States. Justice Brandeis once observed that the "franchise to operate a public utility . . . is a special privilege which . . . may be granted or withheld at the pleasure of the State." Frost v. Corporation Comm'n, 278 U.S. 515, 534 (1929) (dissenting opinion). "The nature of government regulation of private utilities is such that a utility may frequently be required by the state regulatory scheme to obtain approval for practices a business regulated in less detail would be free to institute without any approval from a regulatory body." Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345, 357 (1974). See Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Comm'n of New York, 447 U.S. 557, 569 (1980) ("The State's concern that rates be fair and efficient represents a clear and substantial governmental interest"). With the exception of the broad authority of the
The Atomic Energy Act must be read, however, against another background. Enrico Fermi demonstrated the first nuclear reactor in 1942, and Congress authorized civilian application of atomic power in 1946, Atomic Energy Act of 1946, see Act of Aug. 1, 1946, 60 Stat. 755, at which time the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was created. Until 1954, however, the use, control, and ownership of nuclear technology remained a federal monopoly. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, Act of Aug. 30, 1954, 68 Stat. 919, as
The Commission, however, was not given authority over the generation of electricity itself, or over the economic question whether a particular plant should be built. We observed in Vermont Yankee, supra, at 550, that "[t]he Commission's prime area of concern in the licensing context, . . . is national security, public health, and safety." See also Power Reactor Development Co. v. Electrical Workers, 367 U.S. 396, 415 (1961) (utility's investment not to be considered by Commission in its licensing decisions). The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which now exercises the AEC's regulatory authority, does not purport to exercise its authority based on economic considerations, 10 CFR § 8.4 (1982), and has recently repealed its regulations concerning the financial qualifications and capabilities of a utility proposing to construct and operate a nuclear powerplant. 47 Fed. Reg. 13751 (1982). In its notice of rule repeal, the NRC stated that utility financial qualifications are only of concern to the NRC if related to the public health and safety.
The legislative Reports accompanying this provision do little more than restate the statutory language, S. Rep. No. 1699, 83d Cong., 2d Sess., 31 (1954); H. R. Rep. No. 2181, supra, at 31, but statements on the floor of Congress confirm that while the safety of nuclear technology was the exclusive business of the Federal Government, state power over the production of electricity was not otherwise displaced.
The 1959 amendments reinforced this fundamental division of authority. In 1959, Congress amended the Atomic Energy Act in order to "clarify the respective responsibilities
Although the authority reserved by § 274(c) was exclusively for the Commission to exercise, see S. Rep. No. 870, supra, at 8, 9; H. R. Rep. No. 1125, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., 8, 9 (1959), Congress made clear that the section was not intended to cut back on pre-existing state authority outside the
Section 274(k), by itself, limits only the pre-emptive effect of "this section," that is, § 274, and does not represent an affirmative grant of power to the States. But Congress, by permitting regulation "for purposes other than protection against radiation hazards" underscored the distinction drawn in 1954 between the spheres of activity left respectively to the Federal Government and the States.
This regulatory structure has remained unchanged, for our purposes, until 1965, when the following proviso was added to § 271:
The accompanying Report by the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy makes clear that the amendment was not intended to detract from state authority over energy facilities.
This account indicates that from the passage of the Atomic Energy Act in 1954, through several revisions, and to the present day, Congress has preserved the dual regulation of
The above is not particularly controversial. But deciding how § 25524.2 is to be construed and classified is a more difficult proposition. At the outset, we emphasize that the statute does not seek to regulate the construction or operation of a nuclear powerplant. It would clearly be impermissible for California to attempt to do so, for such regulation, even if enacted out of nonsafety concerns, would nevertheless directly conflict with the NRC's exclusive authority over plant construction and operation. Respondents appear to concede as much. Respondents do broadly argue, however, that although safety regulation of nuclear plants by States is forbidden, a State may completely prohibit new construction until its safety concerns are satisfied by the Federal Government. We reject this line of reasoning. State safety regulation is not pre-empted only when it conflicts with federal law. Rather, the Federal Government has occupied the entire field of nuclear safety concerns, except the limited powers expressly ceded to the States.
That being the case, it is necessary to determine whether there is a nonsafety rationale for § 25524.2. California has maintained, and the Court of Appeals agreed, that § 25524.2 was aimed at economic problems, not radiation hazards. The California Assembly Committee on Resources, Land Use, and Energy, which proposed a package of bills including § 25524.2, reported that the waste disposal problem was "largely economic or the result of poor planning, not safety related." Reassessment of Nuclear Energy in California: A Policy Analysis of Proposition 15 and its Alternatives, p. 18 (1976) (Reassessment Report) (emphasis in original). The Committee explained that the lack of a federally approved method of waste disposal created a "clog" in the nuclear fuel cycle. Storage space was limited while more nuclear wastes were continuously produced. Without a permanent means of disposal, the nuclear waste problem could become critical,
The Court of Appeals adopted this reading of § 25524.2. Relying on the Reassessment Report, the court concluded:
Our general practice is to place considerable confidence in the interpretations of state law reached by the federal courts of appeals. Cf. Mills v. Rogers, 457 U.S. 291, 306 (1982); Bishop v. Wood, 426 U.S. 341, 346 (1976). Petitioners and amici nevertheless attempt to upset this interpretation in a number of ways. First, they maintain that § 25524.2 evinces no concern with the economics of nuclear power. The statute states that the "development" and "existence" of a permanent disposal technology approved by federal authorities will lift the moratorium; the statute does not provide for considering the economic costs of the technology selected. This view of the statute is overly myopic. Once a technology is selected and demonstrated, the utilities and the California Public Utilities Commission would be able to estimate costs; such cost estimates cannot be made until the Federal Government has settled upon the method of long-term waste disposal. Moreover, once a satisfactory disposal technology is found and demonstrated, fears of having to close down operating reactors should largely evaporate.
Third, petitioners note that there already is a body, the California Public Utilities Commission, which is authorized to determine on economic grounds whether a nuclear powerplant should be constructed.
Fourth, petitioners note that Proposition 15, the initiative out of which § 25524.2 arose, and companion provisions in California's so-called nuclear laws, are more clearly written with safety purposes in mind.
Although these specific indicia of California's intent in enacting § 25524.2 are subject to varying interpretation, there are two further reasons why we should not become embroiled in attempting to ascertain California's true motive. First, inquiry into legislative motive is often an unsatisfactory venture. United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 383 (1968). What motivates one legislator to vote for a statute is not necessarily what motivates scores of others to enact it. Second, it would be particularly pointless for us to engage in such inquiry here when it is clear that the States have been allowed to retain authority over the need for electrical generating facilities easily sufficient to permit a State so inclined to halt the construction of new nuclear plants by refusing on economic grounds to issue certificates of public convenience in individual proceedings. In these circumstances, it should be up to Congress to determine whether a State has misused the authority left in its hands.
Therefore, we accept California's avowed economic purpose as the rationale for enacting § 25524.2. Accordingly, the statute lies outside the occupied field of nuclear safety regulation.
Petitioners' second major argument concerns federal regulation aimed at the nuclear waste disposal problem itself. It is contended that § 25524.2 conflicts with federal regulation of nuclear waste disposal, with the NRC's decision that it is permissible to continue to license reactors, notwithstanding uncertainty surrounding the waste disposal problem, and with Congress' recent passage of legislation directed at that problem.
Pursuant to its authority under the Act, 42 U. S. C. §§ 2071-2075, 2111-2114 (1976 ed. and Supp. V), the AEC, and later the NRC, promulgated extensive and detailed regulations concerning the operation of nuclear facilities and the handling of nuclear materials. The following provisions are relevant to the spent fuel and waste disposal issues in this case. To receive an NRC operating license, one must submit a safety analysis report, which includes a "radioactive waste handling syste[m]." 10 CFR § 50.34(b)(2)(i), (ii) (1982). See also 10 CFR § 150.15(a)(1)(i) (1982). The regulations specify general design criteria and control requirements for fuel storage and handling and radioactive waste to be stored at the reactor site. 10 CFR pt. 50, App. A, Criteria 60-64, p. 412 (1982). In addition, the NRC has promulgated detailed regulations governing storage and disposal away from the reactor. 10 CFR pt. 72 (1982). NRC has also promulgated procedural requirements covering license applications for disposal of high-level radioactive waste in geologic repositories. 10 CFR pt. 60 (1982).
Congress gave the Department of Energy the responsibility for "the establishment of temporary and permanent facilities for storage, management, and ultimate disposal of nuclear wastes." 42 U. S. C. § 7133(a)(8)(C) (1976 ed.,
The NRC's imprimatur, however, indicates only that it is safe to proceed with such plants, not that it is economically wise to do so.
Nor has California sought through § 25524.2 to impose its own standards on nuclear waste disposal. The statute accepts that it is the federal responsibility to develop and license such technology. As there is no attempt on California's part to enter this field, one which is occupied by the Federal Government, we do not find § 25524.2 pre-empted any more by the NRC's obligations in the waste disposal field than by its licensing power over the plants themselves.
After this case was decided by the Court of Appeals, a new piece was added to the regulatory puzzle. In its closing week, the 97th Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, Pub. L. 97-425, 96 Stat. 2201, a complex bill providing for a multifaceted attack on the problem. Inter alia, the bill authorizes repositories for disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, provides for licensing and expansion of interim storage, authorizes research and development, and provides a scheme for financing. While the passage of this new legislation may convince state authorities that there is now a sufficient federal commitment to fuel storage and waste disposal that licensing of nuclear reactors may resume, and, indeed, this seems to be one of the purposes of the Act,
Finally, it is strongly contended that § 25524.2 frustrates the Atomic Energy Act's purpose to develop the commercial use of nuclear power. It is well established that state law is pre-empted if it "stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress."
There is little doubt that a primary purpose of the Atomic Energy Act was, and continues to be, the promotion of nuclear power. The Act itself states that it is a program "to encourage widespread participation in the development and utilization of atomic energy for peaceful purposes to the maximum extent consistent with the common defense and security and with the health and safety of the public." 42 U. S. C. § 2013(d). The House and Senate Reports confirmed that it was "a major policy goal of the United States" that the involvement of private industry would "speed the further development of the peaceful uses of atomic energy." H. R. Rep. No. 883, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., 4 (1965); H. R. Rep. No. 2181, 83d Cong., 2d Sess., 9 (1954); S. Rep. No. 1699, 83d Cong., 2d Sess., 9 (1954). The same purpose is manifest in the passage of the Price-Anderson Act, 42 U. S. C. § 2210, which limits private liability from a nuclear accident. The Act was passed "[i]n order to protect the public and to encourage the development of the atomic energy industry . . . ." 42 U. S. C. § 2012(i). Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, Inc., 438 U. S., at 63-67.
The Court of Appeals' suggestion that legislation since 1974 has indicated a "change in congressional outlook" is unconvincing. The court observed that Congress reorganized the Atomic Energy Commission in 1974 by dividing the promotional and safety responsibilities of the AEC, giving the former to the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA)
The Court of Appeals is right, however, that the promotion of nuclear power is not to be accomplished "at all costs." The elaborate licensing and safety provisions and the continued preservation of state regulation in traditional areas belie that. Moreover, Congress has allowed the States to determine — as a matter of economics — whether a nuclear plant vis-a-vis a fossil fuel plant should be built. The decision of California to exercise that authority does not, in itself, constitute a basis for pre-emption.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is
JUSTICE BLACKMUN, with whom JUSTICE STEVENS joins, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
I join the Court's opinion, except to the extent it suggests that a State may not prohibit the construction of nuclear powerplants if the State is motivated by concerns about the safety of such plants. Since the Court finds that California was not so motivated, this suggestion is unnecessary to the
The Court takes the position that a State's safety-motivated decision to prohibit construction of nuclear powerplants would be pre-empted for three distinct reasons. First, the Court states that "the Federal Government has occupied the entire field of nuclear safety concerns, except the limited powers expressly ceded to the States." Ante, at 212. Second, the Court indicates that "a state judgment that nuclear power is not safe enough to be further developed would conflict squarely with the countervailing judgment of the NRC . . . that nuclear construction may proceed notwithstanding extant uncertainties as to waste disposal." Ante, at 213. Third, the Court believes that a prohibition on construction of new nuclear plants would "be in the teeth of the Atomic Energy Act's objective to insure that nuclear technology be safe enough for widespread development and use." Ibid. For reasons summarized below, I cannot agree that a State's nuclear moratorium, even if motivated by safety concerns, would be pre-empted on any of these grounds.
First, Congress has occupied not the broad field of "nuclear safety concerns," but only the narrower area of how a nuclear plant should be constructed and operated to protect against radiation hazards.
Federal pre-emption of the States' authority to decide against nuclear power would create a regulatory vacuum. See Wiggins, Federalism Balancing and the Burger Court: California's Nuclear Law as a Preemption Case Study, 13 U. C. D. L. Rev. 3, 64 (1979). In making its traditional policy choices about what kinds of power are best suited to its needs, a State would be forced to ignore the undeniable fact that nuclear power entails certain risks. While the NRC does evaluate the dangers of generating nuclear power, it does not balance those dangers against the risks, costs, and benefits of other choices available to the State or consider the State's standards of public convenience and necessity. As Professor Wiggins noted:
In short, there is an important distinction between the threshold determination whether to permit the construction of new nuclear plants and, if the decision is to permit construction, the subsequent determinations of how to construct
The Court's second basis for suggesting that States may not prohibit the construction of nuclear plants on safety grounds is that such a prohibition would conflict with the NRC's judgment that construction of nuclear plants may safely proceed. A flat ban for safety reasons, however, would not make "compliance with both federal and state regulations . . . a physical impossibility." Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132, 142-143 (1963). The NRC has expressed its judgment that it is safe to proceed with construction and operation of nuclear plants, but neither the NRC nor Congress has mandated that States do so.
A state regulation also conflicts with federal law if it "stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress." Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941). The Court suggests that a safety-motivated state ban on nuclear plants would be pre-empted under this standard as well. See ante, at 213, 221-222.
The Atomic Energy Act was intended to promote the technological development of nuclear power, at a time when there was no private nuclear power industry. The Act addressed "the practical question of bringing such an industry into being,"
More recent legislation makes it very clear that there is no federal policy preventing a State from choosing to rely on technologies it considers safer than nuclear power. The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, 88 Stat. 1233, 42 U. S. C.
This legislative purpose is consistent with the fact that States retain many means of prohibiting the construction of nuclear plants within their borders. States may refuse to issue certificates of public convenience and necessity for individual nuclear powerplants. They may establish siting and land use requirements for nuclear plants that are more stringent than those of the NRC. Cf. NRC Authorization Act for Fiscal 1980, Pub. L. 96-295, § 108(f), 94 Stat. 783. Under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977, States may regulate radioactive air emissions from nuclear plants and may impose more stringent emission standards than those promulgated by the NRC. 42 U. S. C. §§ 7416, 7422 (1976 ed., Supp. V). This authority may be used to prevent the construction of nuclear plants altogether. Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc. (Indian Point Station, Unit No. 2), ALAB-453, 7 N. R. C. 31, 34, and n. 13 (1978).
"Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to affect the authority or regulations of any Federal, State or local agency with respect to the generation, sale, or transmission of electric power produced through the use of nuclear facilities licensed by the Commission: Provided, That this section shall not be deemed to confer upon any Federal, State or local agency any authority to regulate, control, or restrict any activities of the Commission."
Section 274(k), 73 Stat. 691, 42 U. S. C. § 2021(k), provides:
"Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the authority of any State or local agency to regulate activities for purposes other than protection against radiation hazards."
The role of these provisions in the federal regulatory structure is discussed infra, at 208-211.
"[A] delay in adjudication will not cause any undue hardship for the parties. The certification scheme, in general, does not have an `immediate and substantial impact' on the utilities. Gardner v. Toilet Goods Association, 387 U.S. 167, 171 . . . (1967); neither [Pacific Gas & Electric] nor [Southern California Edison] has a notice of intention or application for certification pending, and the threat that procedural burdens might someday be imposed or that certification might someday be denied for failure to meet Energy Commission standards is remote at best." 659 F. 2d, at 916 (footnote omitted).
Respondents' "fears" that petitioners will not seek to pursue the nuclear option, notwithstanding a favorable decision in this litigation, appear greatly exaggerated.
"The amendment of this section effected by this bill is intended as a clarification of the meaning of section 271 as originally enacted." Id., at 10.
"We were conscious that it was not desired that the AEC should engage in the business of regulating electricity as such. . . . We were trying to keep the AEC out of the business of regulating electricity. That is what gave birth to section 271. We provided that nothing in the act would affect the local supervising authority's right to control the manufacture of electricity generated by nuclear facilities." 111 Cong. Rec. 19832 (1965).
Similarly, the NRC's proceeding addressing the extent to which assessments of waste disposal technology should be factored into NRC reactor licensing does not address the economic ramifications of the issue. This matter has been the subject of prolonged litigation, and is presently pending before the Court. See Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. NRC, 178 U. S. App. D. C. 336, 547 F.2d 633 (1976), rev'd sub nom. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 435 U.S. 519 (1978), on remand, 222 U. S. App. D. C. 9, 685 F.2d 459 (1982), cert. granted sub nom. Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 459 U.S. 1034 (1982).
"(1) to establish a schedule for the siting, construction, and operation of repositories that will provide a reasonable assurance that the public and the environment will be adequately protected from the hazards posed by high-level radioactive waste and . . . spent nuclear fuel . . . ;
"(2) to establish the Federal responsibility, and a definite Federal policy, for the disposal of such waste and spent fuel." 96 Stat. 2207.
See also H. R. Rep. No. 97-785, pt. 2, pp. 59-60 (1982) (purpose of Act to provide "reasonable assurance that safe waste disposal methods will be available when needed"); 128 Cong. Rec. H8162 (Sept. 30, 1982) (remarks of Rep. Udall); id., at H8166 (Sept. 30, 1982) (remarks of Rep. Winn) (the Act "demonstrates to the public and industry that the Federal Government is fulfilling its responsibility to dispose of high-level waste").
The Court apparently believes the Atomic Energy Act's actual purpose was to maximize the use of nuclear power to satisfy the Nation's needs. A moratorium on construction of nuclear plants would prevent the accomplishment of this goal, but, as demonstrated infra, the Court is incorrect in attributing this goal to Congress. Moreover, the degree to which a nuclear moratorium hampers achievement of the goal does not depend on the motives of its framers.