Deal made to advance disputed nominees to nuclear commission

Evan Cantwell/AP
In a hearing the chairman described as “civil,” a Senate panel on Wednesday appeared to achieve a consensus on confirming two nominees for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has been plagued by infighting and whose lightning rod chairman Gregory Jaczko is stepping down.


George Mason University geologist and nuclear waste expert Allison MacFarlane, President Obama’s pick, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, along with current commissioner Kristine Svinicki, who has been renominated. Senators from both parties agreed to look beyond any nuclear safety policy objections and move the nominations toward a floor vote.

“It is my hope that Dr. MacFarlane can step in to be a valuable member of the commission, although I have some concerns about her lack of management and nuclear safety experience,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said in his opening statement. He elicited a promise from MacFarlane that she would not interfere with communication among commission members, noting NRC “collegiality has been tarnished in recent years.”

Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told Svinicki that she would not vote for her because Svinicki “lacked candor” about her involvement in policy discussions about the proposed nuclear waste storage site in Yucca Mountain, Nev., and issues that affect California. But Boxer agreed to move the two nominations forward after getting a commitment from both to answer all committee questions and document requests in the future. “I hope the commission can get off in a new direction,” Boxer said. “Go out after work to have a beer or soda. Could be tea or coffee! You get my point.”

She told MacFarlane, “You’re walking into a tough situation, but I sense in you the ability to bring people together.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.