GOP again pushing for Obama to renominate Svinicki to NRC

Congressional Republicans are again pushing for the Obama Administration to renominate Kristine Svinicki for a new five-year term as a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – and one Washington, D.C., political publication is predicting the president will do just that.

Her current term expires this summer. Three House Republicans issued an April 18 statement urging prompt nomination. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has also made similar comments.

An April 19 Politico report quoted sources inside the administration as saying President Obama will renominate Svinicki. The White House website, however, still did not list Svinicki among his nominations as of mid-day on April 19.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., joined two other Republican House members who chair energy or environment subcommittees in calling for Svinicki to get a new term.

“As a former senator, President Obama surely appreciates that the Senate’s approval of administration appointments does not occur overnight,” according to the statement from Upton, Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and John Shimkus, R-Ill. “Commissioner Svinicki has served with great distinction, selflessly putting the Commission’s mission first and foremost, yet her re-nomination continues to be delayed.”

Svinicki became a commissioner in March 2008 and her current term expires June 30. Having once worked as a nuclear engineer for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), she spent over a decade as a Senate staff member for Republicans including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and now-retired Sen. John Warner, R-Va.

Last year Svinicki was among several NRC commissioners to take the unusual step of publicly criticizing current NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko. Svinicki and some Democrats on the commission testified before Congress and provided criticism of Jaczko’s running of the commission and his alleged hostile treatment of NRC staff.

For his part, Jaczko seems to have withstood the call for his resignation by some congressional Republicans late last year. In the first quarter of this year, Jaczko has been the lone dissenting vote among the five commission members on issuance of new nuclear plant licenses in Georgia and South Carolina.

“As the NRC weathers an unprecedented storm brought on by the Commission’s brazen chairman, Svinicki’s presence has been a welcome, stabilizing force. We believe her continued service will help shepherd our nuclear renaissance and guard our nation’s nuclear safety,” the GOP House trio said in their statement.

Not everyone is a Svinicki fan, however. Some Democrats in Congress have cited past statements Svinicki has made in support of the controversial Yucca Mountain spent fuel repository as a reason for opposition.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., opposes another term for Svinicki. In addition, another Nevada Democrat came out against Svinicki citing her past position on Yucca Mountain.

“I strongly oppose the renomination of someone who puts the interests of the nuclear industry ahead of the people of the State of Nevada,” Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said in a floor statement April 18. “I urge my Nevada colleagues in the Senate to do everything in their power to ensure this Yucca nuclear waste pusher does not have another term.”

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.