NEI urges NRC not to furlough too many employees during shutdown

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is warning its members that there is a significant chance of a government shutdown and that such a development would affect the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

There have been widespread news reports that some members of Congress might force a government shutdown if federal funding is not blocked for the organization Planned Parenthood.

“We are warning our members, whether it’s at the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30) or at the end of a continuing resolution, there is a significant chance of a government shutdown this year,” NEI Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs Alex Flint said in an interview posted on the trade group’s website.

“We are telling our members they need to prepare as best as they possibly can,” Flint said. “We are urging the NRC not to be as conservative as they were in the shutdown of 2013, when they furloughed 90 percent of their employees. We think more of the NRC staff should be retained to keep the agency functioning.”

The last federal government shutdown occurred during 2013 while Allison Macfarlane was chairman of NRC.

NEI has said that the 90% reduction during the last shutdown at NRC was deeper than at other federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which also has responsibility for public safety.

“The impacts on nuclear plant outages and plants under construction could be significant,” Flint said.

Absent a government shutdown, Flint said there is bipartisan agreement that the NRC needs to be right-sized consistent with the agency’s Project AIM 2020 recommendations.

The nuclear industry also wants to see Congress re-authorize the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, Flint said.

In addition, the NEI wants Jessie Roberson’s nomination to the NRC commission move forward in the Senate, Flint said. “Our view is that stability at the NRC is enhanced by having a fully-staffed commission. This is a strategic priority for the industry. We want to see five commissioners at the NRC,” Flint said.

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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