Barrasso questions Reid’s tirade against commissioner

By Hannah Northey, E&E reporter, published 


Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) today cast a critical eye on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) recent tirade against a Democratic member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, saying he wouldn’t use such aggressive language.

In an interview published yesterday in The Huffington Post, Reid called NRC Commissioner William Magwood a “shit-stirrer” and a “treacherous, miserable liar” and accused him of lying about his willingness to oppose a nuclear repository under Yucca Mountain in Nevada (E&ENews PM, July 30).”My wife said I can’t use the word ‘liar'; she’s really specific about that,” Barrasso said today during an energy event in Washington, D.C. “I can’t say any of those things, but Harry Reid, here he is” using such language.

Sen. John Barrasso

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming)

Reid accused Magwood of trying to oust former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who stepped down abruptly in May. Magwood has not addressed the senator’s remarks. Jaczko has since been replaced by Allison Macfarlane, a Democrat, who will fulfill the remainder of his term through June 2013. Jaczko resigned amid accusations that he had mismanaged the agency and berated employees, allegations that the former chairman denied.

Barrasso, who has criticized Jaczko, said he was surprised by the resignation and that Republican NRC Commissioner Kristine Svinicki was reconfirmed for a second five-year term.

“I wouldn’t have imagined four months ago Jaczko would be out and Svinicki would be back on for a full five years,” Barrasso said. “That worked well; we’ll just have to check and see how Macfarlane does in her new job as a one-year appointment.”

Macfarlane will likely be reappointed to a full five-year term as chairwoman if President Obama is re-elected, but another candidate will be chosen if a Republican candidate wins the election this fall, Barrasso said.

Barrasso said ongoing public spats at the NRC have only added to uncertainty facing the nuclear industry, made worse by a complex set of federal energy regulations that continue to change. New regulations are currently coming down from the NRC, which is revamping safety rules for nuclear reactors in the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster last year. The EPA is also imposing new clean air and water rules that could affect whether operators will be forced to build new cooling towers.

“In terms of regulations, it’s an alphabet soup of having to deal with the NRC, the EPA, the BLM, the DOE — just one after another after another — and they keep changing the rules,” Barrasso said. “There’s just no predictability out there.”

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Published on July 31, 2012

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