NRC Commissioner Nominees Must Demonstrate Expertise, Collegiality

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Following is a statement from Nuclear Energy Institute President and Chief Executive Officer Marvin Fertel on two nominations put forward by the White House today to serve on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"The nuclear energy industry is pleased that the White House has nominated candidates to fill the seats vacated by Commissioner Apostolakis and that will be vacated by Commissioner Magwood. As evidenced by the experience and capabilities of the two departing commissioners, the commission must be comprised of leaders who possess expertise and experience and who act as part of a collegial body committed to efficiently and credibly leading an agency of nearly 4,000 people.

"With the nomination of Stephen Burns, who served as NRC general counsel, President Obama has identified a figure familiar with the commission's responsibilities, processes and culture. Industry recognizes Burns' 33 years of service to the commission—he received numerous positive reviews and was repeatedly promoted. Industry has some concerns regarding certain actions taken by the NRC while Burns served as general counsel, including the chairman's use of emergency authority in the weeks after the Fukushima Daiichi accident and the decision to terminate the Yucca Mountain repository licensing process. The confirmation process will provide ample opportunity for Burns to elaborate on his views. The industry supports the federal court ruling reversing the agency's decision to discontinue consideration of the Yucca Mountain license application. The industry also believes emergency authority should be used only by the NRC chairman in rare circumstances in which other commissioners are unavailable to participate in agency decision-making.

"The nomination of Jeff Baran merits close 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. We look forward to hearing his perspectives on these matters during the confirmation process.

"This is a significant period in the NRC's history. The agency and nuclear energy companies alike are faced with the challenge of sharpening regulatory focus to properly prioritize regulatory issues to ensure that both industry and NRC staff and financial resources are committed to those issues most significant to safety. The ongoing implementation of post-Fukushima safety enhancements is part of this complex mix. The times necessitate that the Senate confirm commissioners with relevant policy expertise who will work collegially with the sitting commissioners.

"The industry is committed to continuing a world-class track record of safe operation. Similarly, maintaining a credible and efficient regulator is essential for an expanded role for nuclear energy in a sound energy and environmental policy for future generations."

The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at


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