I am appalled that it is now December and Congress has yet to pass a budget for the year. I am even more worried on many levels by the effect of that failure to complete a constitutionally assigned duty now that I have read Stalled funding could hurt new nuke plants on Earthtimes.org.
Even though the NRC is almost completely funded by user fees, that funding is indirect – the fees go directly to the US Treasury and the Congress has to appropriate the correct amount of funds out of the Treasury to pay the costs of operating the regulator.
Obviously, the cost of doing business for the NRC is increasing – the commission is hiring and training people at a rapid pace in order to prepare for the onslaught of reactor license applications already scheduled to begin arriving in 2007. However, when Congress fails to pass a budget, all agencies obtain their funding via what we bureaucrats call a “continuing resolution authority” (CRA). The assumption made in that case is that the budget is aligned just like it was last year, despite any changes in mission.
The effect on the NRC is essentially a 12% cut in their expected spending authority, which definitely will have an effect on their ability to prepare for the bow wave of new license applications and may hurt their timely response ability for years to come.