Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2015

NRC Nominees Heading for Trouble?

Campaign Finance Reform

Sessions doesn’t want a “Jaczko Jr.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are “already signs that the path to Senate confirmation won’t be a cakewalk” for the two men nominated by President Barack Obama to fill seats on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, reports CQ Roll Call’s Geof Koss.

Jeffrey M. Baran, a Democratic staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Stephen Burns, the head of legal affairs at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency, “got a somewhat cool response from the industry’s trade group, the Nuclear Energy Institute,” Koss writes.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a longtime nuclear stalwart who sits on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said Wednesday he was unfamiliar with either nominee. But a possible link between Burns and the policies of former NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko troubles Sessions, Koss writes. Burns spent 33 years working at the NRC.

“If he’s the individual that gave any cover to Jaczko’s assertion that he could unilaterally rule the commission because an emergency had occurred, then I think that would be very problematic,” Sessions told CQ Roll Call.  “I intend to look at it very hard. I hope we’re now not seeing a Jaczko Junior. . .being appointed.”

Jaczko’s handling of the U.S. response to the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011 was one of a series of controversies that led to his retirement in 2012.

In its statement on the nominees, the NEI also said Burns’ nomination warrants’ scrutiny: “Although Baran has energy and environmental policy experience, his background includes little, if any, relevant experience with nuclear energy technology or the NRC regulatory process and policies.”

Comments (90)

  1. secryn

    July 24, 2014
    11:28 a.m.

    The Senate should not confirm any Obama nominees to this body. This administration, as part of its plan to force energy poverty upon this country, has been working diligently to completely and permanently shut down nuclear energy as a long term energy source. This was done via Harry Reid and former energy secretary Chu, who conspired to have Yucca Mountain decertified as the permanent nuclear waste repository. (The hearings were on C-SPAN back in the spring of 2011 or 2012.)

    Two federal laws, dating from the 1980s, commanded the Energy Department to develop the Yucca Mountain site. It is illegal for DOE to do otherwise. It spent 15 billion $ in surcharges collected from Nuclear energy customers, which by law had to be spent on the development of this site. The site was vetted repeatedly by a huge array of geologists, radiologists, etc., scientists of every stripe. This path was followed for twenty-eight years, until Obama became President. Then Reid ginned up some public meetings whereby some “citizens groups” objected to the use of the site, and based on that Secretary Chu made a finding (on his own, apparently) that Yucca Mountain was unsuitable and we were to begin looking for another site, where the neighbors weren’t so grouchy. 28 years and 15 billion down the drain. And now nuclear waste must continue to be temporarily stored at less-secure sites, which are filling up fast. Soon the courts will begin closing the temporary sites to further waste, and this will force nuclear generating plants to begin shutting down, which is Obama’s plan from the start.

    The hearings contained interesting video of flabbergasted Senators questioning administration officials. “But it’s the law, you must do it, it’s illegal not to follow the law!” the Senators said, and the reply was “Well, Seretary Chu determined the site was unsuitable, thus the law is wrong and we won’t follow it. So there.” The most upset person there was a witness from the GAO, who had to admit that by disqualifying the Yucca Mountain site the gov’t had in effect fraudulently spent the $15 billion.

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