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Thursday
Dec292011

What is really behind the "witch hunt" targeted at NRC Chairman Jaczko?

Alex Flint, now NEI's top lobbyist, was a primary author behind the creation of the nuclear loan guarantee program while a U.S. Senate stafferRyan Grim of Huffington Post, in an in-depth investigative report, documents that U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner (NRC) William Magwood IV and top Nuclear Energy Institute lobbyist Alex Flint have worked together before to "take down" Democratic political appointees in the nuclear energy field. Andrew Cockburn had also previously reported on this story at Counterpunch, quoting Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps:

“[NRC Chairman Jaczko's] not ‘our guy’ by any means, he has voted to re-license plants that should probably be shut down” says Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear.  “But he does care about safety, in ways that the [other NRC Commissioners] do not.”

Alex Flint (pictured, left), while serving as a top committee staffer for U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was a primary author of the nuclear loan guarantee language in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which has already netted the nuclear power industry with $22.5 billion of taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees for new reactors and uranium enrichment facilities. Flint now works for the Nuclear Energy Institute as Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs.

One of Jaczko's greatest "transgressions" against the nuclear power industry and its right wing political supporters -- earning their eternal wrath -- seems to be his carrying out of President Obama's policy decision to phase out the Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump. Before becoming an NRC Commissioner, Magwood had advocated for opening the Yucca dump.

Media coverage of this "mutiny" at the highest levels of the NRC began on Friday, December 9th with U.S. Representative Darrell Issa's (Republican-California) public release of a letter from NRC Commissioners Magwood, Svinicki, Ostendorff, and Apostolakis to President Obama that was clearly marked "Not for Public Disclosure," and has continued up to the present, as documented, with links to the articles, at the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Project's What's News page.

The webcast of the 3 hour, 30 minute long hearing on these matters, conducted on Dec. 15, 2011 by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), featuring the five NRC Commissioners as the sole witnesses, is archived online.