Nuclear regulation has faced a variety of challenges since the Atomic Energy Commission first introduced the procedure of two-step licensing, in which construction and operational licenses are issued separately to nuclear reactor developers. Since 1974, and the establishment of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the process for licensing a nuclear power plant has changed dramatically. In addition to the two-step licensing process of old, developers now have the option of choosing a one-step combined license, which offers more flexibility in terms of developing technical specifications. The two-step and combined license options are codified under 10 C.F.R. §§ 50 and 52, respectively. Although intended to streamline the process and avoid expensive licensing periods that plagued plant development under the old regime, the newer combined license method is not being executed as planned and runs the risk of confronting developers with the same economic hurdles. This Note examines both licensing options and posits that a new strategy must be developed to efficiently license the next generation of nuclear power plants.
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