Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Christopher Hanson to serve another term.

Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as delivered.

“Thank you, Chairman Carper, for calling today’s hearing.

“And thank you, Chair Hanson, for being here today.

“I certainly have appreciated our conversations both in person and on the phone. Probably did a few Zooms during COVID, and you’ve always been very open and ready to respond so I appreciate that.

“During your tenure, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been preparing for the expected increase in advanced nuclear licensing and regulatory work, while also ensuring the safe and secure operation of today’s nuclear reactors and nuclear materials.

“Based on projections, we will need significantly more reliable electricity generation, including from nuclear energy, in the future.

“Nuclear power already provides 20 percent of our nation’s electricity, emissions-free electricity that is on 24/7, 365 days a year.

“Electricity demand is projected to increase rapidly in the short term, in part due to the buildout of data centers, when I heard how much power data centers use it astounded me, and increased use of artificial intelligence.

“If the Biden administration continues to push an ‘electrify everything’ agenda, from cars to trucks to trains to buildings, electricity demand will rise even faster.

“Meanwhile, in the face of increasing power demand, the Biden administration is advancing a radical climate agenda to close down fossil-fuel-fired power plants that supply reliable, affordable electricity.

“I have repeatedly raised the flag on this looming threat of increasing demand and decreasing supply since the beginning of this administration.

“I most recently raised that flag in an amicus brief and an oversight report from the Committee Republicans, and I will continue to highlight it going forward. It just makes sense to me.

“Unless stopped by Congress or the court, the administration’s regulatory attack on the power sector will cause dispatchable, baseload electricity resources to retire prematurely.

“This will lead to major reliability challenges and stunt economic development, and increase the costs paid by American families and businesses.

“So we should be focusing on increasing, not decreasing, the supply from baseload, reliable power sources.

“And increased nuclear deployment should be and must be part of the solution.

“That will require the NRC to be prepared to efficiently review and approve novel reactor designs, to enable the safe use of nuclear power, and license a high-volume of applications in a timely, affordable, and predictable way.

“The projected increase in the NRC’s workload will overlap with the five-year term that Chairman Hanson has been nominated to serve.

“Chair Hanson has supported some important policies since he joined the Commission four years ago.

“He supported finalizing the emergency preparedness rules for advanced reactors and correcting a flawed staff proposal to establish a new regulatory framework.

“That said, Chair Hanson also made policy decisions that I have some concerns about.

“For example, he voted to reverse previous Commission decisions to issue license extensions, a vote that resulted in a cascade of uncertainty for the nuclear industry. We can talk about that in the questioning.

“Chair Hanson’s nomination must be judged not only on his policy, but also on his management decisions as Chairman.

“The Chairman oversees and supervises the NRC staff’s work, and is responsible for developing policy planning and guidance for consideration by the Commission.

“Chair Hanson has a duty to ensure that NRC staff, including the Executive Director for Operations (the EDO), are responsible to the Commission in the performance of its functions.

“The Chairman and the EDO, through the Chairman, are responsible for ensuring that the Commission is fully and currently informed about matters within its functions.

“The Chairman supervises the development and execution of the Commission’s budget and comes before us once a year to talk about that.

“I have concerns with some of the ways that the Commission has been managed in recent years.

“Last year senior NRC staff, under the supervision of the Chairman, proposed to drastically expand telework, cutting the required time in office to just four hours per week.

“This staff proposal bluntly contradicted the Biden administration’s directive to get federal employees back in the office.

“I expressed concern with the staff’s proposal, noting that the likely unintended consequences from reducing personal interaction, both within the NRC staff and between the staff and licensees, applicants, and the public.

“The Commission believed that this dramatic departure from in-office culture was a policy matter, and therefore subject to approval by the entire Commission.

“This appears to reflect the view that the Commission was not fully informed on the course of the staff’s proposal, as the Chairman is responsible to do.

“When presented with the opportunity to directly weigh in on this decision, Chair Hanson doubled down in his support of what I think is an outlandish proposal, breaking with the other three Commissioners.

“I appreciate the efforts of the other members of the Commission to reset the staff’s proposal.

“We similarly saw the NRC staff present the Commission with a flawed proposed rulemaking to establish the regulatory framework for advanced nuclear reactors, as the chairman [Carper] talked about how critical this is, despite countless public comments that the rule was unworkable.

“In this instance, Chair Hanson aligned with the entire Commission to rectify the flaws, and thank you for that, although the senior NRC staff and the Chairman probably should have acted earlier to address the well-documented issues.

“I look forward to getting more information from Chair Hanson about his execution of his role to supervise and direct the NRC staff.

“We are at a critical time for the nuclear industry, and I appreciate how members across the political spectrum are working together to provide the Commission with the necessary direction and tools to fulfill its mission.

“Chairman Carper, Senator Whitehouse, and I continue to work tirelessly to see the Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy…always have a good name, called the ADVANCE Act, signed into law, we got really close at the end of last year, so that America remains the world’s leader in nuclear energy.

“As the saying goes, personnel is policy, so as we work to advance these laws, we need to make sure we have the right personnel in place at the NRC.

“So I look forward to learning more about Chair Hanson’s plans for the Commission’s work and how he will consider these critical policy matters.

“And again thank you for coming and thank you to your family for joining him.”

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