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« Group letter to U.S. Senators urges opposition to NRC nominees due to bias, collusion with nuclear power industry | Main | Senate panel approves Trump EPA, nuke agency nominees »
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.