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Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation & Development Commission

Law Dictionary
CASE BRIEFS

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Chemerinsky

Held. Yes, a state law placing a moratorium on construction of nuclear power plants does not impede federal law’s objectives of developing nuclear energy.


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Discussion. The Plaintiff contends that the moratorium provision of California’s law is preempted by the Act on three grounds. First, it regulates nuclear plant construction allegedly predicated on safety concerns and thus falls within a field controlled by the federal government. Second, it conflicts with decisions concerning nuclear waste disposal made by Congress. Third, it frustrates the goal of developing nuclear technology as a source of energy. As to the first ground, Congress intended the federal government to have authority to regulate safety with nuclear technology, but that the states retain their traditional responsibility in the field of regulating electrical utilities for determining questions of need, cost and other state concerns. The California state law is not preempted on this ground because it is based on safety and not economics. As to the second ground, the state law does not conflict with federal rulings and regulations, which are aimed at ensuring they are saf
e. With regard to the third and final ground, the primary purpose of the Act was to promote nuclear power, but that is not supposed to be accomplished “at all costs.”ť The state law is not preempted.

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