Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this very important nominations hearing.
Unfortunately, I am not able to stay because I am introducing my good friend, Rob Portman, to the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee for his nomination to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
I wish that I could be here for this entire hearing because it brings together two subcommittees that I chair. As chair of the subcommittee that oversees government management and the federal workforce, I want to make sure that we have the right people with the right skills running our nation’s agencies. I am especially concerned about this for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission because I also chair the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety which oversees them.
I welcome our nominees – Ms. Molly O’Neill for Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Environmental Information and Dr. Dale Klein for Chairman of the NRC. I thank you both for your willingness to serve, and even more importantly, I thank your families for their sacrifices.
This is one of the most challenging times for the NRC as the industry is actively pursuing to build new nuclear power plants for the first time in decades. At the same time, the agency will have to deal with a wave of retirements as more than 30 percent of its workforce will be eligible to retire. More than ever, the Commission needs strong and able leadership.
Mr. Chairman, I met with Dr. Klein last week and we had a detailed discussion about his qualifications and vision for the Commission. I believe that Dr. Klein has the right mix of technical, policy, and management experience to serve as NRC’s Chairman. His significant management experience at the Department of Defense combined with the years he has spent in academia makes him uniquely qualified for this position.
I am pleased with his stated commitment to instilling regulatory stability at the NRC with a focus on milestones and deliverables. I appreciate his balanced approach towards the NRC as a regulator that ensures the safe operation of the existing fleet of nuclear plants without stifling the growth of nuclear power. This Committee has spent a considerable amount of time on oversight and on legislation, and I do not want to see that progress eroded as it is vitally important for this country’s environmental, energy, and economic well-being.
Dr. Klein, I look forward to working with you as you take on these challenges at the NRC. We held an NRC oversight hearing in my Subcommittee in March and are planning more before the end of this year.
One last thought before I have to leave. The NRC currently has two recess-appointed Commissioners – Greg Jaczko and Pete Lyons. With the challenges facing the Commission, I am very concerned about this situation and believe that they should be confirmed as expeditiously as possible along with Dr. Klein. Mr. Chairman, I understand that this is also your position. I urge this Committee and the Senate to act quickly so that we have a full Commission.
Again, I thank the witnesses for being here today and for their desire to serve this country.