WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Robert J. Feitel, of Maryland, to be Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Below is the opening statement of Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the EPW Committee, who presided as ranking member at today’s subcommittee hearing:

“Thank you, Mr. Feitel, for appearing before our committee and for your willingness to serve as Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“Since coming to the Senate almost 19 years ago, I have worked with both Democrat and Republican colleagues on this committee to strengthen the "culture of safety" within the U.S. nuclear energy industry. That includes making sure that the NRC is an independent and transparent regulator, one that prioritizes safety above all other issues. In part due to our collective oversight efforts, and in part due to the NRC’s dedicated staff, the U.S. nuclear industry remains one of the safest in the world, and the NRC is the world’s gold standard for nuclear regulatory agencies.

“Today, there are 96 nuclear reactors that are in operation in America. They are operating more efficiently than ever before, and they are producing more than 50 percent of our nation’s carbon-free electricity.

“As our nation – and other nations - look to nuclear energy to help address the climate crisis, we cannot be complacent when it comes to nuclear safety. Now, perhaps more than ever, the NRC and the nuclear industry must continue to be held to the highest standard. That means having a strong, independent NRC Inspector General.

“If Mr. Feitel is confirmed, he will serve as one of the first lines of defense against fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement and misconduct across the NRC.  If Mr. Feitel is confirmed, he will track and determine whether the NRC has the tools necessary to keep our country’s nuclear power the safest in the world. And, if Mr. Feitel is confirmed, my colleagues in Congress and I will depend on him to keep us informed about the serious issues that may arise related to NRC programs and operations. Put simply, if confirmed as the NRC Inspector General, Mr. Feitel will serve as a watchdog for the safety of the American people.

“In order to fill this critical role, I believe Mr. Feitel must bring integrity, independence and transparency to the job every day. I look forward to hearing Mr. Feitel’s testimony to get a better sense of his understanding of the important job to which he’s been nominated.

“Thank you again, Mr. Feitel, for being here today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”