House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today expressed disbelief and concern with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko's apparent coordinated efforts with lawmakers to malign the independent agency's four commissioners. Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) are currently conducting an investigation into the administration's termination of the Yucca Mountain repository, and what the Commission's actions mean for our long-term nuclear safety. On June 14, 2011, NRC Inspector General Hubert Bell testified before the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy on his office's report that detailed damning evidence that Chairman Jaczcko abused his legal authority by deliberately withholding key decision-making information from his fellow Commissioners and intentionally blocking issues for resolution that were long overdue. A recently released letter dated October 13, 2011, signed by the four commissioners to White House Chief of Staff William Daley reveals Jaczko's conduct has worsened since the IG report.
Chairmen Upton and Shimkus released the following statement:
"In a blistering report six months ago, the NRC Inspector General painted a disturbing picture of an NRC Chairman who knowingly withheld crucial information from his fellow commissioners even though the federal statute requires that commissioners have full and timely access to the information. Astonishingly, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Jaczko's conduct has worsened, and yet, it is the four commissioners who find themselves being maligned for putting their country and the safety of Americans first.
"The premeditated smear campaign that Chairman Jaczko and his congressional mentors are engaged in to undermine the four honorable, widely respected NRC Commissioners is shameful and must end. We are pleased Commissioners Apostolakis, Magwood, Ostendorff, and Svinicki will have the chance tomorrow to set the record straight when testifying before Chairman Issa's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"We are well beyond the point of apologies when it comes to our nuclear safety. The actions of Jaczko and the Obama administration have done extensive damage to the NRC's reputation and non-partisan safety culture, threatening to undermine our long-term nuclear future. We have encountered an unprecedented politicization of the NRC and our nuclear policy these last two years. An important first step is to sanitize the NRC of any semblance of politics and restore the integrity of the independent safety agency worthy of the scientists and engineers who have dedicated their entire careers to ensure safe nuclear power."
FLASHBACK-- NRC IG details Jaczko's control of information not in "spirit of the law"
Six months ago, during a June 14, 2011, hearing with the NRC Inspector General, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) asked whether the chairman's actions were outside the spirit of the law. Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Joseph McMillan responded, "That, in fact, could be called into question as to whether or not he was within the spirit of the law as designed for a open collaborative engagement with the other commissioners."