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 nominations of Annie Caputo and Bradley Crowell to be members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery.
“Well thank you, and good morning. It’s nice to be here at today today’s hearing.
“As the chairman has said, we will hear from two individuals, Annie Caputo and Bradley Crowell, who have been nominated to serve as members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
“For more than 11 months, the NRC has only had three members.
“I welcome Annie Caputo back to the Environment and Public Works Committee where I first met her.
“She worked as a Congressional staffer for 13 years, including two separate stints with this committee.
“That included assisting me when I was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Air and Nuclear Safety, and we actually visited a nuclear site together.
“I also welcome Bradley Crowell, a former staffer of Senator Whitehouse and fully capable for this position.
“If confirmed, they will join the NRC at a very critical time.
“Vast portions of the country face potential electricity shortages this summer, making it clear that we need reliable, baseload electric generation.
“Energy prices are driving inflation.
“Internationally, three months after Putin’s attack on Ukraine, our European allies are still struggling to reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas.
“Russia has been working for decades to try to subordinate other countries to its nuclear industry as well.
“As recent events have underscored, energy security is inseparable from national security.
“Nuclear power plants provide America with reliable and affordable zero-emission energy, a point the chairman made as well.
“In fact, nuclear accounts for about half of our emissions-free energy, providing nearly 20% of America’s power.
“Today’s nuclear reactors are operating at historically high levels of safety and performance.
“Despite this record, some states have decided to shut down nuclear plants for political purposes.
“For example, California has required its last nuclear power plant to close by 2025.
“Those two reactors provide 8% of the entire state’s electricity production. They are by far the largest source of emission-free energy in that state.
“Facing energy shortages, skyrocketing energy costs, and reliability challenges – California Governor Gavin Newsom is now reconsidering that decision to shutter the site.
“Continued operation of today’s reactors and development of the designs of the future are needed to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and ensure continued American leadership in this essential national security and energy sector.
“Securing this future requires an effective and efficient nuclear safety regulator.
“As enshrined in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s ‘Principles of Good Regulation,’ maintaining clear and reliable rules is vital to keeping reactors operating safely and efficiently.
“Nuclear utilities cannot make long-term investment decisions when the NRC arbitrarily reverses settled regulatory matters.
“However, in February, the commission did just that when it decided to change previously-issued license extensions.
“The commission must also establish policies that prioritize resources towards the most important safety issues.
“I have asked the commission to update its regulations to do so.
“In addition to policies to preserve the operating reactors, critical decisions will be made in the next four years, during our nominees’ terms, about how new nuclear technologies are licensed, regulated, and operated.
“Other countries are looking to us. They are looking to the United States to see if advanced nuclear is part of our future energy policy, and if we can be relied upon to partner with them on their nuclear projects.
“Our adversaries, namely Russia and China, are betting on our failure.
“If America does not rise to the challenge, it will make it easier for our adversaries to sell their reactors, fuel, and nuclear services around the globe.
“They will be able to establish strategic energy relationships, or dependencies, that could last for 100 years or more.
“In the past, Russia pursued this strategy with Ukraine.
“U.S. businesses are now stepping up to help Ukraine replace Russian nuclear fuel and build new reactors.
“American companies are seeking to develop and deploy advanced technologies in this country.
“Those companies are looking to the NRC to determine if the agency can establish the safety rules to enable the safe use of nuclear.
“In addition to setting predictable and viable regulations, the commissioners need to oversee and empower the NRC’s staff to review and approve applications to build new nuclear plants.
“Earlier this year, I’m proud to say the West Virginia legislature voted to allow new nuclear development in our state.
“The NRC is central to the future of nuclear energy in West Virginia, across the country, and around the world.
“I look forward to hearing from both nominees. Thank you.”
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