House Republicans respond to nomination of Macfarlane for NRC Chair

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), along with subcommittee Chairmen Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and John Shimkus (R-IL), on May 24 said they are hopeful the announcement of Allison Macfarlane as the next Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will bring a swift close to Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s controversial tenure. President Obama also on May 24 announced his intentions to nominate Macfarlane as the next boss of the NRC, just days after Jaczko announced his plans to resigns as Chairman, contingent upon the Senate confirming a successor.

The House Energy and Commerce committee members were not satisfied with the impending nomination, saying “unfortunately, the White House seems to be replacing one anti-nuclear activist with another.

“The president’s choice in Allison Macfarlane, an outspoken opponent of Yucca Mountain, underscores the Obama administration’s misplaced priorities when it comes to nuclear policy,” a statement from the three members read.

Macfarlane is an associate professor at George Mason University and served as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future from March 2010 to January 2012. In 2006, Macfarlane authored the book “Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-Level Nuclear Waste”, which examines the technical issues for nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain.

The Energy and Commerce committee members said President Obama and Harry Reid have a Yucca Mountain litmus test for any prospective nuclear chief.

“As we continue overseeing the agency and its leadership, our litmus test will be their adherence to the law – including the law on Yucca Mountain,” the statement read.

Reid, though, said Macfarlane’s education, experience and service on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future make her eminently qualified to lead the NRC.

“The nuclear industry has a perfect opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to safety by supporting Dr. Macfarlane’s nomination, said Reid.

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