The environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, also requests a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation of Commissioner William Magwood IV’s (photo, left) violations of ethics laws, and conflicts of interest, related to seeking and landing a job promoting nuclear energy, as Director-General of the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), a branch of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has separately written the president and NRC OIG, making the same request.
These letters, to President Obama and to the NRC OIG, follow the coalition's June 18th letter to Commissioner Magwood, urging him to step down voluntarily, and to recuse himself from any nuclear safety votes dating back to his initial bid for the NEA directorship.
The coalition issued a press release. News coverage has included The Hill, and Bloomberg Businessweek (in which U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is quoted as referring to Magwood as a "disaster" and saying “He couldn’t leave quick enough for me”).
As reported by the Energy Guardian, President Obama has nominated Jeffery M. Baran and Stephen Burns to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to fill the seats vacated by Democratic Commissioners Apostalakis (on June 30th) and Magwood (Aug. 31st).
Baran is a senior Democratic staffer on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and aide to retiring U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Burns is a former NRC general counsel with three decades of experience at the agency, currently head of legal affairs at OECD's NEA, ironically enough -- the very institution Magwood is about to head.
As reported by Roll Call, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) immediately voiced concerns about the nominees. NEI's opposition to Baran likely has to do with his role in the narrow passage, largely along party lines, of the 2009 Waxman-Markey energy bill, which favoried efficiency and renewables as clean, safe, and affordable alternatives to dirty, dangerous and expensive energy industries, such as fossil fuels and nuclear. NEI's opposition to Burns centers largely upon his support for NRC Chairman Jaczko's invoking emergency powers at the agency in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.
As investigative journalist, and Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman put it at the time of Jaczko's forced resignation from NRC, the nuclear industry viewed him as "insufficiently pro-nuclear," and his invoking emergency powers was the last straw. As reported by Huffington Post, Magwood led the mutiny, seeking to replace Jaczko as NRC Chairman; the scheme failed, however, as Magwood had earned the enmity of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
As reported by Energy Guardian, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) -- Chair and Member, respectively, of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which will initiate confirmation hearings in the near future -- have expressed their support for both Obama nominees.