(a)Scheduling order. The presiding officer shall, as soon as practicable after consulting with the parties by a scheduling conference, telephone, mail, or other suitable means, enter a scheduling order that establishes limits for the time to file motions, conclude discovery, commence the oral phase of the hearing (if applicable), and take other actions in the proceeding. The scheduling order may also include:
(1) Modifications of the times for disclosures under §§ 2.336 and 2.704 and of the extent of discovery to be permitted;
(2) The date or dates for prehearing conferences; and
(3) Any other matters appropriate in the circumstances of the proceeding.
(b)Model milestones. In developing the scheduling order under paragraph (a) of this section, the presiding officer shall utilize the applicable model milestones in Appendix B to this part as a starting point. The presiding officer shall make appropriate modifications based upon all relevant information, including but not limited to, the number of contentions admitted, the complexity of the issues presented, relevant considerations which a party may bring to the attention of the presiding officer, the NRC staff's schedule for completion of its safety and environmental evaluations (paragraph (e) of this section), and the NRC's interest in providing a fair and expeditious resolution of the issues sought to be adjudicated by the parties in the proceeding.
(c)Objectives of scheduling order. The scheduling order must have as its objectives proper case management purposes such as:
(1) Expediting the disposition of the proceeding;
(2) Establishing early and continuing control so that the proceeding will not be protracted because of lack of management;
(3) Discouraging wasteful prehearing activities;
(4) Improving the quality of the hearing through more thorough preparation; and
(5) Facilitating the settlement of the proceeding or any portions thereof, including the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, when and if the presiding officer, upon consultation with the parties, determines that these types of efforts should be pursued.
(d)Effect of NRC staff's schedule on scheduling order. In establishing a schedule, the presiding officer shall take into consideration the NRC staff's projected schedule for completion of its safety and environmental evaluations to ensure that the hearing schedule does not adversely impact the staff's ability to complete its reviews in a timely manner. Hearings on safety issues may be commenced before publication of the NRC staff's safety evaluation upon a finding by the presiding officer that commencing the hearings at that time would expedite the proceeding. Where an environmental impact statement (EIS) is involved, hearings on environmental issues addressed in the EIS may not commence before the issuance of the final EIS. In addition, discovery against the NRC staff on safety or environmental issues, respectively, should be suspended until the staff has issued the SER or EIS, unless the presiding officer finds that the commencement of discovery against the NRC staff (as otherwise permitted by the provisions of this part) before the publication of the pertinent document will not adversely affect completion of the document and will expedite the hearing.