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NRC

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is mandated by Congress to ensure that the nuclear industry is safe. Instead, the NRC routinely puts the nuclear industry's financial needs ahead of public safety. Beyond Nuclear has called for Congressional investigation of this ineffective lapdog agency that needlessly gambles with American lives to protect nuclear industry profits.

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Thursday
Sep212017

Congressional action alert reminder: Urge both your U.S. Sens. to block confirmation of Trump's NRC nominees!

There is still time to contact both your Senators, urging they vote against confirmation for President Trump's nominees for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Annie Caputo and David Wright. Both have had long, close ties to the nuclear power industry; their confirmation to the directorship of the NRC will risk the same regulator-industry-government collusion cited by the Japanese Parliament as the root cause of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. Find your U.S. Senators' contact info. here, by following the links. Or phone them via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, by following the instructions.

Monday
Sep112017

57 groups send letter to U.S. Senators, urging opposition to Trump's NRC nominees due to dangerous bias and collusion

On Monday, September 11th a coalition of 57 national, regional, and local environmental groups from all across the country, sent a letter all 100 U.S. Senators. The letter urged no votes on the confirmation of President Donald J. Trump's two Republican nominees for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Annie Caputo and David Wright. The Senate floor vote on their confirmation could happen at any time.

You can still take action. Please contact both your U.S. Senators, and urge them to block the confirmation of Caputo and Wright. You can be patched through to your U.S. Senators' Washington, D.C. offices by phoning the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Or, you can find your U.S. Senators' direct contact information, including email/webforms and fax numbers, by following the links. You could also get together with friends and colleagues and request a face to face meeting with your Senators when they are next back home (most weekends), or your Senators' in-district staff during weekdays and normal business hours.

As the letter stated, in part:

The Japanese Parliament concluded in 2012, after a year-long independent investigation into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe, that the root cause was collusion, between regulator, industry, and government officials. Collusion was the root cause for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant being so very vulnerable to the natural disasters that ruined it on March 11, 2011, resulting in a still ongoing, catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity into the environment, from the three melted down reactors.

Given their long established closeness to the nuclear power industry’s lobbying agenda, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the NRC, Annie Caputo and David Wright would worsen such dangerous regulator-industry collusion on the NRC Commission. Confirmation of Caputo and Wright would consummate the nuclear power industry’s high-risk domination of the NRC for the next five years.

Caputo previously was a top lobbyist for the largest U.S. nuclear utility, Exelon. For more than a decade, she has served as a top committee staffer for the most pro-nuclear members of congress, including U.S. Reps. Barton and Upton (chairmen of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee), and U.S. Sens. Inhofe and Barrasso (chairmen of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee).

For a decade, Wright was a leader of the South Carolina Public Service Commisision, as well as the National and Southeastern public service commission associations, with a focus on nuclear power and radioactive waste matters. He approved multiple rate hikes in South Carolina to finance the building of the now-cancelled Summer Units 2 and 3 atomic reactors, representing a loss of billions of dollars of ratepayer money.

Thursday
Sep072017

Group letter to U.S. Senators urges opposition to NRC nominees due to bias, collusion with nuclear power industry

Beyond Nuclear is urging organizations to sign onto a coalition letter, addressed to U.S. Senators. The letter urges U.S. Senators to oppose President Donald J. Trump's two Republican nominees for seats on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) -- Annie Caputo and David Wright -- due to the nominees' clearly established bias in favor of such nuclear power industry goals as the opening of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada dump for irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

Now that the U.S. Senate is back in session after its long August recess, these nominations could come up for an up or down confirmation vote on the Senate floor at any point.

Caputo previously was a top lobbyist for the largest U.S. nuclear utility, Exelon. For more than a decade, she has served as a top committee staffer for the most pro-nuclear members of congress, including U.S. Reps. Barton and Upton (chairmen of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee), and U.S. Sens. Inhofe and Barrasso (chairmen of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee).

For a decade, Wright was a leader of the South Carolina Public Service Commisision, as well as the National and Southeastern public service commission associations, with a focus on nuclear power and radioactive waste matters. He approved multiple rate hikes in South Carolina to finance the building of the now-cancelled Summer Units 2 and 3 atomic reactors, representing a loss of billions of dollars of ratepayer money.

After a year-long indepenedent investigation, the Japanese Parliament concluded that the root cause of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe was collusion between supposed safety regulators, the nuclear power industry, and government officials.

As the group letter states:

Given their long established closeness to the nuclear power industry’s lobbying agenda, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the NRC, Annie Caputo and David Wright would worsen such dangerous regulator-industry collusion on the NRC Commission. Confirmation of Caputo and Wright would consummate the nuclear power industry’s high-risk domination of the NRC for the next five years.

See the text of the letter, and the list of endorsing groups as of 9am Eastern time, Thursday, September 7, 2017.

Sign on deadline is close of business, Friday, September 8, 2017. U.S. groups only please. To sign on, please send the person's name, title, group name, city and state to the following email address: kevin@beyondnuclear.org.

Individuals can also take action. Pleaese contact both your U.S. Seantors, and urge them to oppose Caputo's and Wright's confirmations. Find your U.S. Senators' contact information by following these links, or be patched through to their Washington, D.C. offices by phone by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

To learn more about these nominees, see the entries below, at Beyond Nuclear's NRC webiste section.

Thursday
Aug102017

Beyond Nuclear urges U.S. Senators to not confirm Caputo and Wright for NRC Commission, due to their blatant pro-nuclear bias

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is supposed to regulate the safety of nuclear power, not promote the industry's financial interests, or do the bidding of its army of lobbyists. Yet, two entirely biased Trump nominees for NRC Commission slots are poised for confirmation by the U.S. Senate -- Annie Caputo, and David Wright. A third, NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki, has already been confirmed for another five years, on top of the nine she has already served at the agency.

Beyond Nuclear has delivered letters to U.S. Senators, urging opposition to the confirmation of Caputo and Wright. See Beyond Nuclear's letter to U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (Democrat-Wisconsin), as an example.

Caputo's and Wright's pro-industry bias, such as in favor of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dump scheme, could not be more blatant. See bolded sections below.

As documented by Beyond Nuclear’s Paul Gunter, Caputo worked as the congressional affairs executive manager for Exelon Corporation, now the largest nuclear power corporation in the U.S., from 1998 to 2005.  She is currently a Republican Majority Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Senate EPW Committee, serving Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), where she also previously served as Senior Policy Advisor for leading nuclear power proponent, Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe from 2009 to 2012, who himself served as EPW Committee chairman. She also worked for the 113th Congress as a Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, where the chairman, Michigan Republican Congressman Fred Upton, successfully led the January 2013 opposition to the NRC technical staff’s strongly worded and unanimously supported recommendation that the agency order the installation of engineered severe accident capable radiation filters on hardened containment vents for thirty-one U.S. Fukushima-style reactors.  In our view, this is one of Congress’ most egregious acts following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster to promote industry financial interests above U.S. public health, safety, and environmental protection.

On both congressional committees, Ms. Caputo has prominently advocated for what amounts to the protracted political mugging and divisive licensing of the scientifically-unsuitable, environmentally unjust, non-consent based, and illegal – considering Western Shoshone Indian treaty rights to land and water -- Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump scheme in Nevada (the radioactively contaminated groundwater from Yucca would eventually surface as springs in Death Valley, CA, where the Timbisha Band of Shoshone use it for vital drinking water). In fact, Rep. Upton – who Caputo served as a senior aid -- has been a leading congressional advocate for the Yucca dump for decades.

Trump’s other nominee to the NRC Commission, David Wright, is a former commissioner and chairman of the South Carolina Public Service Commission (SC PSC, 2004-2013), and another leading advocate for nuclear power/radioactive waste generation, and the industry’s coveted priority goal of ramrodding the Yucca dump down Nevada’s throat. In fact, SC is one of the most nuclear powered states in the country, with the SC PSC’s long, strong support for that, at SC ratepayer expense. In 2011, Wright was elected President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), which sued to keep the Yucca dump project moving forward.  In addition to NARUC President, Wright served many other roles, including as Chairman of NARUC's Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues and Waste Disposal. He has been Co-Chair of the Yucca Mountain Task Force (2005–2010) and National Chair of the Nuclear Waste Strategy Committee (2006-2013). As SC PSC chairman, he presided over the gouging of SC ratepayers (yet again), to pay for the construction of two proposed new atomic reactors, Summer Units 2 and 3. Multiple rate hikes over the course of many years now mean that SC ratepayers pay around one-fifth of their electricity bill in ‘nuclear tax surcharges,’ Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) payments, or advance cost recovery, toward building Summer 2 and 3. With the recent bankruptcy of Westinghouse Nuclear, due to years-long schedule delays and cost overruns amounting to many billions of dollars, not only at Summer 2 and 3 in SC, but also at Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia, the cancellation of one or both SC reactor construction projects is now under very serious consideration. This means, the billions of dollars already unwillingly ‘invested’ by SC ratepayers, would simply be lost, with nothing to show in return. This is actually the best (least worst) possible outcome. Throwing good money after bad at Summer 2 and 3 would further burden SC ratepayers. And, if those two troubled reactors are someday completed and operated, that would introduce the risk of reactor operations and radioactive waste storage, on top of the financial burden SC residents and electric consumers already shoulder, due to the industry-friendly decisions of Wright. A nuclear power industry promoter like Wright has no rightful place at the top of the safety regulatory agency, NRC.

Please urge your U.S. Senators to oppose Caputo and Wright's nominations.

Call your two U.S. Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Or find your Senators' direct contact info. at this link. You can communicate your concerns to your U.S. Senators' offices by phone, email/web form, fax, etc. You can also get together with friends and colleagues and request an in-person meeting with one or both of your U.S. Senators, while they are back in-state for the August congressional recess.

To learn more, see the additional entries below in Beyond Nuclear's NRC website section.

Wednesday
Jul122017

Senate panel approves Trump EPA, nuke agency nominees

As reported by The Hill:

A Senate committee on Wednesday cleared three Trump administration nominees to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), sending them to the floor for consideration.

The Environment and Public Works Committee approved Annie Caputo and David Wright to serve as members of the NRC on Wednesday. If they are confirmed by the full Senate, the NRC would have a full slate of five members.

Caputo is a senior adviser to Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and a former official at Exelon Corp., which operates more nuclear plants than any other U.S. company. The committee cleared her nomination on a bipartisan 15-6 vote. [This means that four Democratic members of the EPW Committee voted in favor of Caputo's confirmation, while all Republican members did so as well.]

Wright is a former South Carolina Public Service Commission member. The committee approved his nomination on a 12-9 vote. [The Hill's vote count here appears to be in error. Barrasso's own press release actually reported the vote as 11 to 10. This means that all Republican members voted in favor of Wright's confirmation, while all Democratic members voted against. So far, Beyond Nuclear can confirm that Sen. Harris (D-CA) voted against both nominees. The committee clerk has not posted the vote counts, so we cannot list which of the four Democrats voted in favor of Caputo's nomination, above. As soon as the information becomes available, we will post it here.]

Beyond Nuclear issued a media statement on the day of the June 13th EPW Committee confirmation hearing, which was also delivered to EPW Committee members' offices, as well as other U.S. Senate offices. The statement urged members of the committee and the Senate to oppose all three NRC nominations, including Kristine Svinicki for NRC Chairman, and Caputo and Wright for NRC Commissioners.

Beyond Nuclear also sent letters to EPW Committee members, urging no votes against both Caputo's and Wright's confirmation, on the eve of the business meeting vote. Here for example is a copy of Beyond Nuclear's letter to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (Democrat-New York).

Caputo's and Wright's nominations now move to the full Senate floor for up or down votes.