Nuclear Regulatory Chief under Bipartisan Attack from Fellow Commissioners
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) top appointee is facing accusations from his fellow commissioners regarding his behavior, while the agency debates new—and controversial—safety reforms for the industry.
Four NRC commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, recently complained in writing to the White House, claiming Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s “behavior and management practices have become increasingly problematic and erratic.”
Jaczko was accused of “storming out of an agenda planning meeting while a colleague was speaking” and yelling at his fellow commissioners on the phone.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), for whom Jaczko previously worked as both appropriations director and science advisor, publicly defended his former aide, saying he’s been the victim of “a politically motivated witch hunt.”
However, the conflict would appear to be more of a power struggle than a disagreement over policy. The four commissioners, Democrats William Magwood and George Apostolakis and Republicans Kristine Svinicki and William Ostendorff, accuse Jaczko of cutting them out of the decision-making process, while Jaczko, in his own letter to the White House, claimed that he has “about the same number of years of experience on the Commission as all four of them added together.”
The clash between Jaczko and his colleagues has overlapped with their struggle to adopt new and potentially expensive safety rules for nuclear power companies in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.
The problems at the top of the NRC do not seem to have adversely effected the general work environment down below. In the most recent survey of federal employee satisfaction, the NRC ranked second best among 33 large agencies.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
NRC Panel: Nuke Chief Damages Agency (by Matthew Daly, Associated Press)
Provocative US Nuclear Chief Faces Political Test (by Roberta Rampton, Reuters)
The Non-Regulating Nuclear Regulatory Commission (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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