Senators Webb, Alexander Introduce Bill to Prevent Vacancies on Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Posted on July 20, 2011

Washington, D.C- Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent vacancies on the five-member U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by permitting commissioners to serve until their successors are confirmed. Despite its critical role in ensuring the safety and security of nuclear power plants and materials, the NRC is one of only a few independent agencies without a continuation of service provision. 

“The United States has one of the safest track records with nuclear power and I continue to believe that investing in its development will help address our nation’s energy requirements,” said Senator Webb. “This commonsense legislation will ensure the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is fully staffed to perform its oversight responsibilities as we expand access to this clean abundant source of domestic energy.”

“The work of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is too important to our nation’s safety, security, and clean electricity supply to allow long vacancies between appointments, as we’ve seen in the past when the commission of five has dwindled to a commission of three,” Senator Alexander said. “This bill would follow the examples set by the Tennessee Valley Authority and Securities and Exchange Commission by maintaining a full NRC commission between its members’ terms.”

NRC Commissioners currently serve five-year terms, or are appointed to serve out the remaining term of a commissioner who resigns or can no longer serve. If a successor has not been confirmed by that time, then the position remains vacant.  

Identical bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives last month by Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR).

In 2009, Senators Webb and Alexander partnered to introduced the “Clean Energy Act of 2009” to promote further investment and development of the nation’s clean energy technologies.  The legislation would also direct the Department of Energy to invest in five approaches including: carbon capture and conversion technologies, non-ethanol biofuels, electric vehicles and electricity storage, cost-competitive solar power, and Generation IV reactors and technologies that will ultimately reduce nuclear waste.

Full text of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Continuation Act: