Natural Resources and Environment:

[Applicability of Environmental Laws to National Nuclear Security Administration]

B-285281: Published: May 8, 2000. Publicly Released: May 8, 2000.


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GAO reviewed the applicability of environmental laws to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), focusing on whether: (1) the National Nuclear Security Administration Act narrows the waivers of sovereign immunity contained in existing environmental, safety, and health laws that apply to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the NNSA; and (2) a bill now before the Committee on Commerce (H.R. 4288) might, if enacted, be interpreted to expand the application of existing environmental, safety, and health laws as they will be applied to the NNSA. GAO noted that the NNSA Act clearly states that current law will apply to the NNSA exactly as it applied to the NNSA's functions when performed previously by DOE. The continuation of current law necessarily carries forward all waivers of sovereign immunity in existing law, making further clarification superfluous. The proposed amendments in H.R. 4288 may have the inadvertent effect of expanding or confusing existing waivers of sovereign immunity.

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