NRC Overhauls Public Meeting ‘Category’ Definitions

Morgan Lewis - Up & Atom
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Morgan Lewis - Up & Atom

The NRC recently approved a revision to its Policy Statement, “Enhancing Participation in NRC Public Meetings.” If you have attended an NRC public meeting in the past few decades, you may be familiar with the NRC’s triage of different meeting types, designated as “Category 1,” “Category 2,” or “Category 3.” The latest revisions redefine the categories of public meetings and the level of public participation permitted at each.

BACKGROUND

The NRC first implemented its public meeting policy in 1978, and last revised it in 2002. More recently, in 2014, the agency formed a task group to review and propose updates to the policy. The task group developed initial recommendations, which the NRC Staff then incorporated into a proposal it sent to the Commission in 2016 (SECY-16-0007). Among other things, Staff proposed to redefine the three longstanding categories of public meetings. On June 24, 2016, the Commission approved Staff’s proposal and instructed the Staff to circulate the draft revisions for public comment. After considering the resulting input, Staff revised the policy statement and submitted it to the Commission (SECY-18-0005), which gave its final approval on February 19, 2021. The Commission then published the final updated policy on March 19, 2021.

2021 POLICY REVISIONS

In its January 11, 2018 response to public comments on the proposed revision, the Staff provided a table to illustrate the proposed changes to the meeting categories:

Old Category

Purpose of Meeting

Level of Public Participation

New Category

1

For NRC to meet with representatives of a single external entity in a public forum

Other attendees observe the business portion of the meeting and can ask questions of NRC staff at designated points

Observation Meeting

2

For NRC to meet with representatives of multiple external entities in a public forum

3

For NRC to meet with individuals to inform them and discuss regulatory topics

Public discussion is actively sought

Information Meeting with a Q&A Session

For NRC to meet with individuals to inform them and take their feedback/comments

Public discussion and feedback/comments are actively sought

Comment-Gathering Meeting

In sum, the NRC is consolidating its former designations for entity-specific meetings (“Category 1” and “Category 2”) into a single category, while splitting its agency-oriented meetings (formerly “Category 3”) into two different buckets based on whether the purpose is more oriented toward a back-and-forth discussion or comment gathering. In practical terms, it is unclear how much of an impact the new designations will have on NRC meetings. However, the new policy is immediately effective; so, we should find out soon. We will continue to monitor NRC meetings and report on any significant developments.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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