WASHINGTON, D.C.—Legislation introduced in the House and Senate this week aims to clarify the roles carried out by commissioners on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission with respect to policy and rulemaking actions, as well as delineate the scope of powers possessed by each commissioner. The Nuclear Regulatory Reorganization Plan Codification and Complements Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). Following is comment from the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president for governmental affairs, Alex Flint.
“We commend Senator Vitter and Representative Terry for introducing legislation to ensure that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission takes full advantage of the talent and expertise of all commissioners. The legislation recognizes the leadership role of the chairman while promoting greater collaboration among commissioners and ensuring that all commissioners can fully participate in agency decisions.
“Although the legislation may have been prompted by certain problematic actions taken by the previous chairman, the proposed amendments to the Reorganization Act of 1980 deserve serious consideration as they appropriately reinforce the fundamental principle that federal commissions are to act as collegial bodies as they carry out their responsibilities. This is vital to the agency’s credibility and public confidence.
“Senator Vitter’s and Representative Terry’s legislation recognizes that sound public policy is most successfully developed and implemented when commissioners share all relevant information and jointly consider policy matters. We believe that the legislation also would improve the agency’s performance in the event of an emergency. It correctly balances the chairman’s authority to declare an emergency and address any immediate issues with the need to quickly notify to the full commission, Congress and the public.
“The industry also appreciates Congress’ recognition of the need to expeditiously act on decisions and appeals from licensing boards. The legislation sets a 90-day deadline which reasonably allows the commission to fully consider the issues before it without causing undue delay.
“We look forward to working with Senator Vitter and Representative Terry as this legislation is considered.”