The State of Wyoming is moving forward with plans to take over regulation of the uranium industry from the federal government. Governor Matt Mead signed legislation on Friday that starts the process of transferring oversight from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality. The transfer is expected to cost the state $4.2 million, which industry will pay back over the course of roughly 12 years by taking on the expense of several positions currently paid for out of the general fund.
Ken Vaughn is with Cameco, one of the state’s uranium producers. He says state oversight will streamline permitting, but won’t compromise safety.
“Before this transfer could take place, the state has to have in place regulations that are as strict at least at the federal regulations and also has to have a system and a department established that can manage it effectively,” he said.
In light of that, it will be years before the transfer actually happens. In order to help get the program started, the legislation authorizes the Department of Environmental Quality to hire six people and the Attorney General’s office to hire two.