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Gregory Jaczko Named NRC Chairman

Jaczko Along with a bunch of other personnel announcements, Gregory Jaczko, who has been an NRC commissioner, now assumes the post of Chairman, replacing Dale Klein. Here’s the news from the NYT:

A former adviser to Senator Harry Reid is President Obama’s choice to lead the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, giving opponents of a nuclear waste repository in Mr. Reid’s home state of Nevada another well-placed ally. The new chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, has served on the five-member commission since January 2005. He will now serve as the commission’s official spokesman and as its chief executive, overseeing day-to-day operations as well as long-range planning.

Despite the comment on Yucca Mountain, we think its role in the near term was set before now. Jaczko has plenty to do; we doubt Yucca Mountain will dominate his agenda.

You can read the NRC’s mini-bio here.

Here’s NEI’s congratulations:

“The Nuclear Energy Institute congratulates Commissioner Jaczko on his ascension to the chairmanship of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In the four years that Commissioner Jaczko has served as a member of the commission, he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to safety and transparency in our nuclear regulatory regime, along with considerable technology and policy insights with regard to the safe operation of civilian nuclear facilities.

“We greatly value the fact that, particularly in those instances where our views on how to best achieve a common goal—continued safe operations—have differed, our relationship with the new chairman has been marked by mutual respect and candor. I have the utmost confidence that this amicability and open communications with all stakeholders, including the industry, will continue for the betterment of the regulatory process.

“This is a critical time in our nation’s energy and environmental history. It is vital that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission achieve its mission through a predictable and fair regulatory philosophy that includes a disciplined approach with regard to licensing the new nuclear plants that will help the nation achieve its formidable energy and environmental goals. We welcome the opportunity to work with Chairman Jaczko toward this end.

“NEI thanks Dale Klein for his service as NRC chairman over the past three years. Under his leadership, the commission completed rulemakings in nuclear plant security and other significant issues, and began the efficient processing of 17 license applications for new reactors. We look forward to his continued involvement on the commission.”

And Sen. James Imhofe (R-Okla.) has put up an on-point congratulatory note:

"I look forward to working closely with him in his new role as chairman of the NRC," Senator Inhofe said. "Nuclear energy must continue to play an increasingly important role in our nation's domestic energy supply. As we work together toward that goal, I appreciate Chairman Jaczko's commitment to transparency and improving public communication, something I very much agree with.

"Also, I believe the Reaction Oversight process has worked well, so I am very interested to learn about Chairman Jaczko's suggestions for changing it.  Any potential changes to performance indicators should avoid injecting unnecessary instability into the process."

So there you go. We’ll see if we can scrounge up some Jaczko quotes for contemplation.



Ioannes said…
Jackzo is Harry Reid's handpicked man against Yucca Mountain and has a definite anti-nuke bias. This is going to be a disaster for the nuclear industry.
djysrv said…
The appointment of Jaczko is a recognition of the reality of Nevada Senator Harry Reid being the Senate Majority Leader. Since Jaczko is the only Democrat on the NRC, and is a former key aide to Reid, the White House really had no choice in elevating Jaczko to the post as chair. There is a vacancy on the NRC, and it will be filled by a Democrat. That choice should be watched closely as, unlike Jaczko, it will require Senate confirmation.

More on Jaczko's track record at
Idaho Samizdat
Anonymous said…
Yes, Greg Jaczko once worked for Harry Reid. I think we all know that by now.

But could someone PLEASE point out ANY evidence of Jaczko's alleged "anti-nuclear bias" in any of his commission decisions? That's where the rubber meets the road. Everyone always says this, but never backs it up.

Waiting on the evidence, not just paranoid speculation.
perdajz said…
Once again, I gotta go with Ioannes and ask how did this happen? Worked with Reid? And Markey? No industry experience?

I would flip the question around on anonymous and ask for evidence that Jacko is the right person for the job. I don't see any.
Ioannes said…
In response to Anonymous, check out Idaho Samizdat's link:

This is going to go very badly for nuclear energy in the US. Jackzo is a precautionary principle regulator - don't do anything you can't prove is 100% risk free. And he's in cahoots with the anti-nukes (NIRS, NECNP, Unplug Salem, etc.).
Anonymous said…
"he's in cahoots with the anti-nukes (NIRS, NECNP, Unplug Salem, etc.)."

Sources? Proof? Evidence of any kind?

And I question the axiom that a regulator is only qualified if s/he comes from the industry that is being regulated. That's a recipe for collusion.
Anonymous said…
"check out Idaho Samizdat's link"

OK, I read it. Nothing in that post proves Jaczko has an antinuclear bias. Lots of McCarthyist guilt-by-association stuff. he picked up antinuke cooties from his former employers or something.

The one point that may be relevant--the claim that he voted against license renewal for Oyster Creek--is simply factually wrong. Jaczko dissented in part from the decision based on differences with other commissioners as to how the drywell should be monitored in the future. He did NOT vote against license renewal.

If you're going to badmouth someone, at least have your facts straight.
djysrv said…
The NRC records the vote for Oyster Creek at 3-1 with Jaczko against.

The New York Times reports similarly, that the vote was 3-1. Dissent or not the vote matters.

Three of the commission’s four members voted to uphold a ruling by a lower regulatory panel to license the plant and deny an appeal by opponents who wanted the case reopened for discussion. The fourth dissented from part of the majority opinion but said he agreed with much of it.
Matt said…
I agree that this is very bad for the nuclear industry. Don't expect the NRC to continue its efforts to expedite processing of COL applications. His appointment will delay the start of operations for new plants by at least 2 years.
Jason Ribeiro said…
Back in October, NEINN posted about the Mother's for Peace campaign against the Diablo Canyon Plant's used fuel storage.Jaczko was the lone vote in favor of the Mothers. I find this no vote of his to be of concern. Given the contentions of the Mothers for Peace were rather preposterous, seeing a vote in their favor would seem to undercut the confidence of used fuel storage.

I don't know how much power he will yield in his new position to slow or stop new applications, but I've not read anything yet that makes me believe that Jaczko even likes nuclear energy. We shall see.
perdajz said…
Sorry anon (please give yourself a name), but it's not a lot to ask that someone actually understand the industry that they are asked to regulate, even if this provides the possibility of collusion. The possibility of collusion can be managed or mitigated by a transparent process. It's ironic that you are defending Jaczko by saying the antinuke accusations brought against him are mere circumstantial evidence, yet would not welcome a nuclear power insider here because of the mere appearance of collusion. That's the pot calling the kettle black.

Jaczko simply has no credentials commensurate with this position.
gunter said…
Is the industry position really now so tenuous that this appointment should represent such a threat?

No surprise that this blog would start the harangue on Jazcko and Yucca Mt. But folks, Yucca has been dead on arrival for some time now and this criticism of Jazcko is way passed prime time.

As for the continued harangue that a commission chair that might actually back up a claim to a pro-safety focus equates to an antinuclear position---you all are off base again. You all should welcome as an opportunity to back your safety claims.

He is a physicist, right? That's more than Merrifield and others could ever claim.

As for the 3-1 vote on Oyster Creek relicensing, you obviously did not read the ASLB decision and conditions. Oyster Creek could not even live up to its own license renewal commitments for age management programs for drywell corrosion.
What are you looking for--a complete pass on any regulatory oversight? Apparently. This will ultimately get you (us all) in real trouble.
Anonymous said…
The most important issue for Jaczko as chair will be how his leadership affects staff moral in the USNRC and its organizational effectiveness. He will have to act as an advocate for the staff and for sufficient resources to sustain and build the NRC's capability to respond effectively to license applications.

More Office of Research resources are clearly needed for anticipatory research today if the NRC is going to be capable of responding to Gen IV applications such as the PBMR.

Jaczko can be for more stringent safety and security goals (none of his dissenting opinions have been outlandish), but in his new position he is responsible for the leadership and effectiveness of the USNRC.

An ineffective and inefficient regulatory organization is just as adverse to nuclear safety as an ineffective utility organization, except that the later affects only one to a few plants while the USNRC affects them all.

Jackzo has no leadership experience. So we'll have to see whether he does a good job or not.
Max Epstein said…
I would just add that at a recent Congressional hearing (I regret I forget the committee) with all the NRC commissioners, all commissioners were asked how they, or Congress, could speed up construction/approval of current COL-applicant plants. Klein stuck to his point that the basically 4-year license process is fair and in line with international standards, and Congress should stop asking them to hurry.

Jaczko noted that NRC gets flooded with so many COL's, while no one expects all to get built in the first wave. He mentioned that if the NRC were given some authority to specifically prioritize some (and so not others) that could allow them to approve the first sooner and have them up and running faster.

Seemed like a pretty good idea to me, and regardless certainly not something from someone who's trying to kill the industry and see these things never built. I'm with anon. I understand reflexive suspicion because of his links, but do think you need something much more concrete to prophesize the gloom and doom we hear about this guy. So far I just haven't seen it.
Anonymous said…
Although Jaczko was appointed through Reid, his agenda appears to be nuclear safety. He also is younger than Klein or Lyons, and more receptive to the application of modern safety technology. although promoting Jaczko was a perfunctory move for Obama, it's not clear that it was bad, by a longshot.

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