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Opportunities for Environmental Justice in Nuclear Law

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 93 minutes
Recorded Date: February 03, 2022
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  • The NRC has considered Environmental Justice within the context of its NEPA reviews in conformity with Executive Order 12898
  • Louisiana Enrichment Services , CLI 98 3, is the seminal NRC Environmental Justice case
  • The NRC is currently taking a fresh look at how conducts Environmental Justice activities and the staff will provide recommendations soon
  • Industry has sought to better incorporate Environmental Justice considerations into decision making
  • A number of Environmental Justice communities have found past nuclear fuel cycle activities have adversely and disproportionately
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Recorded: February 3, 2022

For NY - Difficulty Level: For experienced attorneys ony (non-transitional)


This seminar features expert panelists bringing their own unique perspectives to the issue of environmental justice in nuclear law.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner Jeff Baran represents the federal regulatory agency. Martin O'Neill from the Nuclear Energy Institute represents the nuclear industry. Experienced environmental and nuclear safety advocate Diane Curran represents advocates and potential NRC petitioners. Judge June Lorenzo, Chief Judge for the Pueblo of Zia, represents tribal stakeholders and human rights advocacy. Each panelist will present their own perspective on the opportunities to improve environmental justice in the nuclear law field, perspectives stemming from their roles as legal practitioners.

The conversation will focus on the legal avenues to improve environmental justice, potential challenges to doing so, and the legal framework within the nuclear field for pursuing any environmental justice initiatives.

This program was recorded on February 3rd, 2022.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Martin O'Neill

Associate General Counsel
Nucelar Energy Institute

Martin is an attorney with the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington, DC. He is a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and private sector attorney with two decades of experience representing diverse business and governmental entities in regulatory, licensing, litigation, and enforcement matters before the NRC, related state agencies, and adjudicatory tribunals.

Martin's experience includes advising clients on applications for the initial issuance, renewal, amendment, and transfer of power reactor and radioactive materials licenses; successfully defending license applications in contested adjudications before NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Boards; preparing comments on draft agency rulemakings and other documents; performing due diligence reviews to support commercial transactions; and performing internal investigations into allegations of wrongdoing at nuclear power plants. His core knowledge areas include nuclear facility and radioactive materials regulation, administrative law, and environmental law, especially application of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal environmental statutes to agency actions.

Martin has a B.A. degree in geology from Colgate University and has studied hydrogeology at the graduate level. He received his J.D. degree from the University of Texas School of Law with a focus on environmental law.

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Hon. Jeffrey Martin Baran

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Honorable Jeff Baran was nominated by President Obama and sworn in as a Commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on October 14, 2014. He is currently serving a term ending on June 30, 2023.

Commissioner Baran is focused on ensuring the safety and security of the country’s civilian nuclear facilities. He is committed to openness and transparency in agency decision-making and to hearing and considering the perspectives of a broad range of stakeholders. He supports a strong focus on environmental justice. Commissioner Baran believes NRC has an important role to play in tackling climate change, including establishing the right regulatory framework for the safe licensing and operation of new technologies.

Since joining the Commission, Commissioner Baran has visited dozens of NRC-licensed facilities, including operating power reactors, a nuclear plant undergoing active decommissioning, research and test reactors, fuel cycle facilities, a low-level waste disposal facility, and a variety of facilities using radioactive materials for medical and industrial purposes. He also traveled to Fukushima Daiichi for a first-hand look at conditions and activities at the site.

Before serving on the Commission, Commissioner Baran worked for the U.S. House of Representatives for over 11 years. During his tenure with the Energy and Commerce Committee, oversight of NRC was one of his primary areas of responsibility. He worked to coordinate the efforts of six federal agencies, including NRC, and two Native American tribes to clean up uranium contamination in and around the Navajo Nation. In addition, he helped negotiate bills related to pipeline safety, energy efficiency, hydropower, electric grid reliability, and medical isotopes that were enacted with bipartisan support. From 2003 to 2008, he was counsel to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Prior to his work on Capitol Hill, Commissioner Baran served as a law clerk for Judge Lesley Wells of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Commissioner Baran earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in political science from Ohio University. He holds a law degree from Harvard Law School.

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June L. Lorenzo

Chief Judge
Tribal Court, Puebla of Zia

Chief Judge Lorenzo, Laguna Pueblo/Navajo (Din?), lives and works in her home community of Laguna Pueblo. She works with community organizations and Indigenous non-governmental organizations to address uranium mining legacy issues and resistance to new mining, sacred landscape protection and, more recently, on issues of repatriation of cultural patrimony.

Chief Judge Lorenzo advocates in tribal and domestic courts as well as before legislative and international human rights bodies. She also participated in negotiations for both the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She holds a Ph.D. in justice studies from Arizona State University and a J.D. from Cornell University.

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Diane Curran

Of Counsel
Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP

As one of the country’s leading environmental and nuclear safety advocates, Diane Curran has stopped unsafe nuclear projects and won significant safety and environmental protection measures before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and federal courts, on behalf of state and local governments, citizen groups, and individuals. Diane’s areas of legal expertise include the Atomic Energy Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.

Diane’s court victories include two ground-breaking cases establishing new environmental requirements for nuclear reactor licensing. In New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012), the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the NRC to prepare, for the first time, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding the long-term environmental effects of storing spent nuclear reactor fuel. In a follow-up petition to the NRC, Diane forced the agency to suspend all reactor licensing for two years while it prepared the EIS. And in 2006, in San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace v. NRC, 449 F.3d 1016 (9th Cir. 2006), Diane won a precedent-setting court order requiring the NRC to evaluate the environmental and safety impacts of an attack on a proposed spent fuel storage facility at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. As a result, the NRC now routinely examines the environmental impacts of attacks in its licensing decisions.

Diane has also represented many citizen groups in cases before the NRC. Highlights include — In 2017, Diane represented Riverkeeper in the historic settlement of the Indian Point license renewal case that provides for early shutdown of the twin nuclear reactors. Following the 2011 Fukushima accident, she represented a broad group of environmental groups in pressing NRC to consider the lessons learned from the accident in its licensing decisions. In 1997, working with Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, Diane won one of the first environmental justice victories in the U.S., resulting in cancellation of a uranium enrichment project in the heart of an African-American community in rural Louisiana. In 1995, Diane’s litigation against re-licensing of a grossly contaminated uranium processing plant in Oklahoma was a key factor forcing the shutdown of the facility. And in 1991, the aging Yankee Rowe reactor closed after a petition by Diane, on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, showed the reactor vessel failed to meet NRC safety standards.

Diane’s work has been honored by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (1997 finalist for Trial Lawyer of the Year), Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (2013 Certificate of Honor), and Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (2013 Mothers’ Day for Peace award).

Diane has represented state and local governments including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the State of Utah; Eureka County, Nevada; and Orange County, North Carolina. She has also represented many civic and environmental organizations including Beyond Nuclear, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Eastern Navajo Din? Against Uranium Mining, Friends of the Earth, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Native Americans for a Clean Environment, Nuclear Watch South, Riverkeeper, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, the Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Published works include The Re-Licensing of Nuclear Power Plants, in O’Very et al., Controlling the Atom in the 21st Century (NRDC/Westview Press: 1994); Silent Sirens: Report on 1992 Accident at Sequoyah Fuels Uranium Processing Facility (Native Americans for a Clean Envionment: 1993); and The Public As Enemy: NRC Assaults on Public Participation in the Regulation of Operating Nuclear Power Plants (Union of Concerned Scientists: 1992).

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Darani M. Reddick

Director of Regulatory Inititives
Exelon Generation

Darani Reddick is the Director of Regulatory Initiatives at Exelon Generation, where she is responsible for developing Exelon Nuclear’s regulatory priorities and strategy. She recently assumed this role after serving as the Chief of Staff to Exelon Corporation’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer.

Prior to her Chief of Staff position, Darani served as a Regulatory Affairs Manager and Assistant General Counsel, where she provided advice on a wide range of nuclear legal and regulatory matters, including investigations and enforcement, physical security, decommissioning planning, licensing, and export controls. Prior to joining Exelon, Darani was a Senior Associate in the Nuclear Energy practice at Winston & Strawn LLP. She started her career at the NRC, beginning as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel and later serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel to then-Commissioner Kristine Svinicki.

Darani holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from The George Washington University School of Law.

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