WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, April 17, 2024, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Christopher T. Hanson to serve as a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“We are here today to consider Christopher T. Hanson’s nomination to serve an additional 5-year term as Commissioner on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Welcome back to our committee, Chair Hanson. We thank you for the time you’ve taken to meet with us and the other members of our committee and our staffs.

“I’d like to begin by saying a few words about this crucial moment for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and for the future of nuclear energy in the United States and abroad. Today, the Commission is facing new challenges, but I believe that in adversity lies opportunity.

“As we all know, nuclear power plays a critical role in our electricity grid. It is also indispensable in our ongoing efforts to address the climate crisis and strengthen our nation’s energy security, while also creating economic opportunity and jobs — a lot of them, in fact. Nuclear energy is currently the largest source of reliable, clean energy in our nation providing about 20 percent of our nation’s electricity and nearly half of our clean power.

“At last year’s United Nations climate conference, known as COP28, over twenty countries including the United States agreed to triple global nuclear energy capacity by 2050. Let me say that again: at last year’s UN climate conference, over twenty countries including the United States agreed to triple global nuclear energy capacity by 2050.

“The consensus is clear — new nuclear energy development can help us limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“That is why I’ve long believed that nuclear energy must be a part of our work to address climate change. My interest in nuclear goes back to my days as a Navy ROTC student at Ohio State University, and later as a Naval Flight Officer tracking submarines. I witnessed how our submarines and aircraft carriers traveled millions of miles on nuclear power.

“While a great majority of my colleagues and I support research and development of nuclear technologies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is charged with ensuring that current and new nuclear designs are safe and secure. 

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is recognized globally as the gold-standard for the regulation of nuclear technology. Other countries around the world look to our Commission because of its independence, its technical expertise and its emphasis on safety. And that is what Congress and the American people expect from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“The climate crisis we face today presents new challenges and opportunities for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is imperative that the Commission carefully review the many new nuclear plant designs that companies, entrepreneurs and the U.S. Government are bringing forward. And at the same time, the Commission must ensure that existing reactors can continue to operate safely — in many cases well past their original design life.   

“It is up to us in Congress to ensure that the Commission has the right leadership and resources it needs for the 21st Century. That is why I’m working together with Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito and others on our Committee to pass our ADVANCE Act. I believe the ADVANCE Act will provide the Commission the tools, resources and workforce that it needs to usher in the future of nuclear energy.

“At this crucial moment for new nuclear technologies and our climate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs a full slate of Commissioners in place to succeed. Fortunately, President Biden has nominated Chair Hanson to serve another term as Chair on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Chair Hanson is a proven leader and a dedicated public servant with decades of government experience. Before beginning his service on the Commission, Chair Hanson worked as a staff member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he oversaw civilian and national security nuclear programs. Prior to his time in the Senate, he was a Senior Advisor in the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy. He also worked in the Department of Energy’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, where he oversaw nuclear and environmental cleanup programs and managed the Department's relationships with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

“Under Chair Hanson’s leadership, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has undertaken significant efforts to modernize the agency while dealing with constrained resources. He has skillfully led the Commission’s development of policies to prepare for new technologies. That includes, for example, the Commission’s work to establish a new regulatory framework for the safe licensing and operation of the next generation of nuclear reactors as well as fusion energy systems. Through initiatives like this one, the Commission is improving efficiency while maintaining high standards for safety.

“In his time on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Chair Hanson has gone above and beyond to engage with both industry and the public. For example, in 2022, he convened the first Commission meeting outside of the Washington, D.C. area in decades in New Mexico, where he facilitated a dialogue with Navajo Nation members about the cleanup of legacy uranium mining and milling sites.

“Finally, he has also demonstrated a commitment to promoting environmental justice during his tenure by directing Commission staff to provide recommendations for updating the agency’s environmental justice policy.

“In closing, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is most effective when it has a full slate of commissioners who can carry out its critically important mission — to protect the safety of our nuclear facilities and maintain public trust while facilitating the safe deployment of clean nuclear energy. I believe that Chair Hanson is the right person for the job at this time, and I hope to work with members of this Committee to expeditiously move his nomination through the confirmation process.

“Chair Hanson, thank you for your service. And thank you to your family for sharing you with us. It brings me joy to know that your wife, mother and father-and-law, and son are here with you today.”