NRC proposes to amend its rules on the use of credit ratings

January 4, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a proposed rule that would amend its regulations for approved financial assurance mechanisms for decommissioning. The rule is intended to implement the provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that directed agencies to amend their regulations to remove any reference to or requirement of reliance on credit ratings.

The proposed rule, which was published in the January 3 Federal Register with a request for comment, would affect NRC applicants and licensees that are required to provide financial assurance that funds will be available when needed for decommissioning a nuclear facility.

Public comments: The NRC is inviting public comment on the proposed rule and associated draft guidance until March 20. The agency said it also will hold a public meeting on the rule, the date of which will be announced later. Further information can be found, and comments submitted, by going to the federal rulemaking website and searching for Docket ID NRC–2017–0021.

Questions for comment: The NRC is seeking advice and recommendations from the public on this proposed rule, with particular interest in comments and supporting rationale on the following:

  1. Would the proposed rule present additional risk to the public regarding reasonable assurance that NRC licensees have adequate funding to decommission their facilities?
  2. Does the draft guidance effectively communicate the necessary information to be submitted to the NRC that will enable the agency to effectively determine a licensee’s creditworthiness?
  3. Does the draft regulatory analysis capture all of the NRC and licensee costs required by this proposed rule?
  4. It has been argued that section 939A of the Dodd-Frank Act is focused on “issue” credit ratings of specific financial obligations, such as long- and short-term bonds, rather than “issuer” credit ratings or corporate family ratings, and that the statute does not preclude the use of “issuer” or corporate family credit ratings in federal regulations. Should the NRC interpret the statute and implementing regulations as making this distinction? Does the statute permit the agency to use “issuer” or corporate family credit ratings in its regulations under 10 CFR Part 30? If so, should the NRC do so?

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