Vitter Summary Statement for Oversight Hearing of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety “Oversight Hearing: NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and Other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety”
January 30, 2014
Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for convening today's hearing, and I would also like to thank our NRC commissioners for being so accommodating with your schedules after this hearing was postponed to facilitate the Majority's vote on the nuclear option.
Before we hear from the witnesses, I would like to briefly revisit some of the points I made during the November hearing.
The NRC's compliance with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's decision is an important step forward in addressing the long-term management of nuclear waste and the legal commitment to Yucca Mountain.
More importantly, it is a step in the right direction for the federal government after years of political games taking precedent over good policy and agency stewardship.
To date, the development of Yucca Mountain has resulted in over $15 billion of spending with very little forward movement. It is wholly irresponsible and a failure of leadership that the Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report was halted in the first place, and it should not have required a court ruling for the agency to comply with the law.
Nuclear energy has become an indispensable contributor to our base-load electricity needs and will continue to be for years to come. As the Commission continues to develop new regulations it should keep in mind the negative consequences that have resulted from misguided regulations and federal interferences.
In recent years we have seen what crippling results can ensue when the Commission clearly loses sight of its mission, allowing partisan politics to sway important decisions.
Regulations for the sake of regulating can become a profound burden on our fellow Americans who rely on nuclear energy to meet their everyday needs. The negative effects of a plant closure results in more than just a diminished power supply, as we have seen in California. The consequences can extend to economic hardship, loss of jobs, and negative environmental impacts.
The very nature of the NRC requires its leadership to operate independently of political and ideological pressures and in a transparent manner that focuses on the safety and energy reliability needs of our communities.
While the effects of the 2011 Fukushima accident will no doubt continue to play a significant role in future regulation of the U.S. nuclear industry, we must all remember that our reactor fleet is the safest in the world. That status existed before Fukushima, and continues today.
Again, thank you very much for being here, and I look forward to hearing from you on these important issues.