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NRC Nominees Heading for Trouble?
Posted at 3:15 p.m. on July 23, 2014
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.”