House panel wants more details related to NRC internal spats

Continuing their investigation into the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s management, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko an April 23 letter seeking information related to the NRC’s governance, including the chairman’s role as principal executive officer.

Jaczko has been under come under the congressional microscope because of his handling of issues such as the NRC response to the Fukushima accident in Japan, the aborted license procedure for the Yucca Mountain spent fuel repository but, most of all, for his relations with NRC staff and his four fellow NRC commissioners.

In an unusual move the other commissioners, including fellow Democrats, criticized his management style in a congressional hearing late last year. Some GOP members of Congress have called for his resignation.

“As part of this inquiry, we seek information relating to the development of policies established by the Commission to govern the actions of the Chairman and Commissioners,” the letter said. “We also seek information relating to any guidelines and procedures the Chairman may have for the execution of responsibilities reserved for the Chairman in the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 and the Reorganization Plan No.1 of 1980, as codified.”

Included in the letter is a request for a detailed timeline for the development of the commission’s revised Internal Commission Procedures, which are the foundation for the efficient function of the commission. The committee noted in an April 24 statement that under the Reorganization Plan of 1980, the Chairman “…shall be governed by the general policies of the Commission…”  However, said the committee statement, in their Oct. 13, 2011, letter to White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, four of the commissioners cited the chairman’s “open disdain for the Internal Commission Procedures…”

In a Dec. 7, 2011, letter to Daley, Jaczko attributed the conflict with his fellow commissioners to their “confusion over differences between the roles and responsibilities of the NRC Chairman and Commissioners…” and cited an NRC Inspector General Report from 1999. However, the commission’s response to that IG report was drafted by then-Chairman Richard Meserve, who cited the commission’s revision of Internal Commission Procedures as addressing the issues raised by the IG, the committee noted. Understanding the development of the Internal Commission Procedures revisions will provide necessary insight into the current governance struggles of the commission, the committee said.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.