Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a committee oversight hearing of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The hearing featured testimony from Kristine Svinicki, chairman of the NRC; Jeffery Baran, commissioner at the NRC; and Stephen Burns, commissioner at the NRC.

For more information on their testimonies click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Today’s oversight hearing will be looking at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the NRC.

“I would like to welcome Chairman Svinicki, Commissioner Baran, and Commissioner Burns. 

“I am sad to say that the commission remains without its full strength of five commissioners. 

“This is a situation I am eager to resolve.

“I continue to believe that the Commission functions best with all five commissioners in place.

“I am a strong supporter of nuclear energy. 

“It is a vital component of an all-of-the-above approach to American energy. 

“For our country to continue to benefit from nuclear energy, we need the NRC to be an effective, efficient, and predictable regulator. 

“The NRC’s Efficiency Principle of Good Regulation states: ‘The American taxpayer, the rate-paying consumer, and licensees are all entitled to the best possible management and administration of regulatory activities.”

“I agree. 

“It is our committee’s responsibility to assess the agency’s performance. 

“While the NRC’s safety mission is paramount, the NRC must execute that mission in a fiscally responsible and timely fashion.

“My home state of Wyoming plays a key role in the American nuclear energy supply.

“It produces more uranium than any other state.

“I want to commend the commission for agreeing to extend the duration of uranium recovery licenses from ten years to twenty years. 

“This is an important recognition that the regulatory burden placed on these facilities is disproportionately high given how the NRC considers their operation to be ‘low risk.’

“The growth of this regulatory burden is clear in the monthly report. 

“The NRC is taking far longer to make uranium recovery decisions than it did ten years ago. 

“This general lack of urgency is troubling. 

“As uranium producers struggle with depressed prices and U.S. uranium production is at levels that we haven’t seen since the early 1950s, the need for timely decision-making from the NRC is greater than ever.

“The NRC is also lagging in its progress toward instituting flat fees for routine uranium recovery licensing actions. 

“These would be fees on uranium producers by the NRC that wouldn’t increase.

“Four years seems to be an inordinate amount of time for the NRC to institute flat fees given that some of NRC’s agreement states, meaning states that have assumed responsibility for regulating their uranium recovery facilities, already have flat fees in place.

“Wyoming is seeking to become an NRC agreement state and assume responsibility for regulating its uranium recovery facilities. 

“While this will be a positive step for Wyoming and its uranium producers, it is also a strong verdict on the need for the NRC to improve its performance.

“Improving performance was the goal of the NRC’s Project Aim 2020 that says: ‘to transform the agency over the next five years to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and agility of the NRC.’

“Unfortunately, Project Aim 2020 seems to be ending prematurely. 

“The most recent Project Aim status report indicates that the NRC will complete the vast majority of action items early next year and the NRC staff will no longer report on it.

“Project Aim 2020 is becoming Project Aim 2018, yet the challenges facing the NRC remain.

“These include: premature closures of nuclear power plants, decreased licensing work at the NRC, and declining new reactor reviews at the NRC.

“The NRC must continuously strive to improve its performance. 

“This requires diligent leadership from the commission. 

“I look forward to having a discussion with the commission about these important issues today.”