A Win for States: Utah Radioactive Waste Facility
Under Interstate Compact Authority
CSG Supports Court Ruling to Block Utah Waste Facility
from Disposing of Foreign Radioactive Waste
DENVER, COLO.--A U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the power of the states to govern the transport and disposal of radioactive waste through a special multistate agreement known as an interstate compact--an important win for the validity of interstate compacts nationwide.
"In view of The Council of State Governments' historic role in the field of interstate cooperation and interstate compacts and its mission to promote the role of the states within our system of federalism under the U.S. Constitution, this decision is a significant reaffirmation of the federal constitutional prerogative of state governments to collectively exercise their sovereignty as provided under the compact clause of the Constitution," said Rick Masters, CSG's special counsel for interstate compacts.
Throughout its more than 75-year history, CSG has been a staunch supporter of multi-state problem solving and the role of the states in determining their respective futures. CSG signed on to the appeal through a friend of the court brief, supporting the states' ability to block the disposal of foreign radioactive waste in the Utah case.
The court ruling came after EnergySolutions, the owner and operator of a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility located in Clive, Utah, applied for approval to import and dispose of low-level radioactive waste from a decommissioned reactor in Italy. State members of the Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management voted unanimously in 2007 not to allow it. EnergySolutions LLC sued to challenge the compact's authority, claiming the states didn't have the power to make the decision.
A U.S. District Court in Utah originally sided with EnergySolutions, claiming interstate compacts don't have that kind of authority.
But Tuesday's court opinion from the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., reversed that decision and ruled in favor of the states.
"The issue in this case is whether the Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste allows its member states to exclude low-level radioactive waste from disposal at a Utah site," according to the Nov. 9 ruling.
The ruling proves that states do have that power through interstate compacts.
Interstate compacts are an important method in which states develop state-based solutions to shared problems. The compacts are a reinvigoration of the U.S. federalist system in which states may only be able to preserve their sovereign authority over interstate problems to the extent that they share their sovereignty and work together cooperatively through the special legal agreements, according to CSG's National Center for Interstate Compacts.
CSG has played an integral role in developing numerous interstate compacts, tracking the progress of more than 200 active interstate compacts, researching innovative solutions for the states and bringing the states together to build consensus on national issues.
The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships. Learn more at www.csg.org.