Senate confirms new Nuclear Regulatory chief

 Allison MacFarlane Allison MacFarlane AP file photo

The Senate on Friday followed through on a bipartisan agreement and confirmed geologist Allison MacFarlane to lead the troubled Nuclear Regulatory Commission, also approving the reappointment of Kristine Svinicki for another five-year term.

President Obama nominated MacFarlane, a George Mason University professor of environmental science and policy who wrote the influential book Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-Level Nuclear Waste on the problem of storing waste at the Nevada site, after Gregory Jaczko in May announced that he was stepping down following a disputatious term as chairman. MacFarlane’s term expires June 30, 2013.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, had been skeptical of Svinicki’s record on testifying before Congress, but worked out a deal with Republicans to move both nominations forward.

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