U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Announces Review of Power Plant Design for Small Modular Reactors

The Biden administration has voiced strong support for commercial nuclear energy as an essential element of the President’s goal of achieving  “clean” electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050. Last week, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Agency), announced a regulatory milestone that inches the advanced nuclear technology sector closer to commercialization of small modular reactor (SMR) technology.


U.S. EPA Proposes First Enforceable PFAS Water Contamination Levels

On March 14, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed its long-anticipated National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) to limit six common types of PFAS in drinking water. This is the first time EPA has sought to establish legally enforceable national PFAS[1] contamination levels for drinking water. This step represents the latest action under the Biden administration’s multistep plan to limit PFAS levels in the United States, building upon EPA’s October 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap and its pending proposal to designate certain PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.


U.S. EPA Proposes New Wastewater Discharge Limits for Coal-Fired Power Plants

On Wednesday, March 8, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed more stringent effluent limitations guidelines and standards for coal-fired power plants, which it estimates will cost $200 million annually while reducing pollutant discharges by approximately 584 million pounds per year. The proposed guidelines and standards update those published in 2015 and 2020 and focus on limiting the migration of toxic metals such as selenium, mercury, and arsenic to drinking water, recreational water, and aquatic life from the following types of wastewaters generated by coal-fired power plants: flue gas desulfurization wastewater, bottom ash transport water, and combustion residual leachate. The proposal includes additional standards for legacy wastewaters previously discharged to surface impoundments.


U.S. FERC Reverses Course on Rehearing, Rejecting Southwest Power Pool Effective Load-Carrying Capacity Accreditation Methodology

On March 2, 2023, in a 3–1 decision, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected, without prejudice, Southwest Power Pool (SPP) proposal to adopt an Effective Load Carrying Capacity (ELCC) capacity accreditation methodology for wind and solar resources (Rehearing Decision). Commissioner Allison Clements issued a concurring statement, and Commissioner James Danly issued a dissenting statement. The Rehearing Decision reverses FERC’s August 2022 decision accepting, subject to conditions, SPP’s proposal to accredit wind and solar resources based on historical performance using an ELCC methodology (August Decision).


Key Milestones for U.S. Nuclear Projects

This week saw two key milestones for nuclear power, signaling advancement in an industry viewed as critical to securing reliable and carbon-free baseload power for the future. On Monday, March 6, Georgia Power announced that the Vogtle Unit 3 pressurized water reactor achieved initial criticality, meaning nuclear fission was self-sustaining and able to generate the heat necessary to deliver electricity to the grid. The unit is slated to come online in the coming months and is approved to operate under a 40-year Nuclear Regulatory Commission Combined Operating License.


EPA Announces Enforcement Actions to Control Hydrofluorocarbon Imports

On March 2, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) announced several enforcement actions that support reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These actions include the following:


Biden Administration Unveils New Cybersecurity Strategy, Emphasizes Grid Security

On March 2, 2023, the Biden administration unveiled a new National Cybersecurity Strategy that includes various initiatives to protect U.S. energy infrastructure from attacks. The White House strategy comes on the heels of several high-profile attacks on U.S. substations and at a time when federal regulators have placed increased focus on the security of the U.S. energy grid.


D.C. Circuit Upholds U.S. EPA’s 2021 Interstate Ozone Transport Rule

On March 3, 2023, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an industry challenge to the April 2021 Revised Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) Update Rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency), which required power plants in 12 “upwind” states to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx), an ozone precursor, emissions such that those states did not inhibit downwind states’ ability to comply with the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).




Upcoming Events



Meet The Team

<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/b/boxerman-samuel-b">Samuel B. Boxerman</a>

Samuel B. Boxerman

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/b/brown-keturah-a">Keturah A. Brown</a>

Keturah A. Brown

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/d/dickson-gerbas-grace">Grace Dickson Gerbas</a>

Grace Dickson Gerbas

<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/h/healey-terence-t">Terence T. Healey</a>

Terence T. Healey

<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/i/irvin-kenneth-w">Kenneth W. Irvin</a>

Kenneth W. Irvin

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/p/polito-christopher-j">Christopher J. Polito</a>

Christopher J. Polito

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/k/khan-casey">Casey Khan</a>

Casey Khan

<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/l/lisak-michael-l">Michael L. Lisak</a>

Michael L. Lisak

<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/b/bolen-brittany-a">Brittany A. Bolen</a>

Brittany A. Bolen

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/f/flyer-aaron-l">Aaron L. Flyer</a>

Aaron L. Flyer

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/h/hildebrandt-brooklyn">Brooklyn Hildebrandt</a>

Brooklyn Hildebrandt

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/i/in-allison-h">Allison H. In</a>

Allison H. In

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/n/noelliste-nicole-e">Nicole E. Noëlliste</a>

Nicole E. Noëlliste

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/p/posen-hannah">Hannah Posen</a>

Hannah Posen

<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/r/raffetto-jack-c">Jack Raffetto</a>

Jack Raffetto

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/s/singh-jagdeep">Jagdeep Singh</a>

Jagdeep Singh

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/z/zaleski-joseph-t">Joseph T. Zaleski</a>

Joseph T. Zaleski

Washington, D.C.
<a target=‘_blank’ href="https://www.sidley.com/en/people/z/zhang-jimmie">Jimmie Zhang</a>

Jimmie Zhang

Washington, D.C.


To receive email alerts when we post a blog entry, please provide your name and email address.