Articles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals

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The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts submitted an environmental impact statement (EIS) with its relicensing application in 2006. Before relicensing occurred, an earthquake and tsunami occurred off the coast of Japan, which hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Less than three months later, Massachusetts moved to admit a contention and to reopen the Pilgrim record, arguing that Fukushima revealed new and significant information that the environmental impact analysis needed to address. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denied Massachusetts's motion. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) denied the Commonwealth's petition for review, rejecting the Commonwealth's claims that the EIS was inadequate in light of the damage to Fukushima. The Commonwealth also petitioned for review from the NRC's vote to renew the license of the Pilgrim station. The First Circuit Court of Appeals denied the petition for review, holding that the NRC did not act arbitrarily or capriciously by (1) failing to require supplementation of the EIS in light of Fukushima; and (2) declining to hear Massachusetts' rulemaking petition and to complete all the post-Fukushima review before granting the license. View "Massachusetts v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Comm'n" on Justia Law

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NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC, which operated a nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire, applied to renew its operating license. NextEra submitted a required environmental report that concluded that offshore wind electric generation was not a reasonable alternative to the extended licensing of Seabrook. Several environmental groups (collectively, Petitioners) questioned and sought a hearing on NextEra's environmental report. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board admitted the contention, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) denied the admission of the contention, which resulted in Petitioners not being entitled to have a hearing on the merits about their contention that generation of electricity from offshore wind was a reasonable alternative source of baseload energy to the relicensing of Seabrook. The First Circuit Court of Appeals denied Petitioners' petition for review, holding (1) the NRC did not misapply case law interpreting the National Environmental Policy Act in formulating its contention-admissibility standard; and (2) NRC's conclusion that the contention was inadmissible was not arbitrary or capricious, and there was no basis in law to set it aside. View "Beyond Nuclear v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Comm'n" on Justia Law

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After a generator failed, plaintiff ordered a replacement, believing that no permit was required for changes to its hydroelectric power facility, which is located on plaintiff's property on a non-navigable Massachusetts river. The facility consists of an 87-acre-foot reservoir, a 20-foot-high, 127-foot-long concrete gravity dam, two powerhouses, and appurtenant facilities. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that plaintiff required a license under the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 817(1). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the facility is in a stream that is subject to Commerce Clause jurisdiction, the proposed changes will constitute "post-1935 construction" under the Act, and the proposed changes will affect interstate commerce. The Commission's interpretation of "construction" as encompassing the work at issue was reasonable and substantial evidence supports a finding that small hydroelectric plants have a cumulative impact on interstate commerce.

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Franchisees, operating gas stations in Puerto Rico, alleged violations of the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA), 15 U.S.C. 2801, based on the Esso's plan to leave the market and terminate their contracts. Esso sold its assets to Total and most of the franchisees eventually contracted with Total. The district court found some of the terms of the Total franchise contract invalid, but severable, and denied injunctive relief and damages against Esso. The First Circuit affirmed, first holding that PMPA does not require that terms offered by a substitute franchisor be identical for each franchisee and that there was no evidence that Total acted other than in good faith or intended that its offers would be rejected. That Total's franchise contract, consisting of more than 100 pages, contained five provisions found partially invalid under state law, did not render it "per se" in violation of PMPA.