House Panel Delays NRC Oversight Hearing

House members have been waiting a long time to grill outgoing Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko. And now they are going to have to wait even longer.

Two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees that had planned a joint hearing for Thursday on the NRC abruptly postponed the session on Tuesday. The hearing planned by the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy and the Subcommittee on Energy and Power was entitled "NRC Policy and Governance Oversight" and was meant to look into the commission's "governance, chilled work environment, and recent votes."

The chairmen of the panels said on Tuesday on that the hearing was postponed in light of recent developments in the Senate, which is expected to deal soon with the nomination of Allison Macfarlane to replace Jaczko as NRC chair. The Senate is also moving toward a hearing on a new term for Republican Kristine Svinicki on the NRC.

"Given the swift movement on nominations and the apparent wind down of Chairman Jaczko's current tenure at NRC, we've decided to pause until there is more clarity on the chairmanship of the NRC," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus, R-Ill., and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.

"We welcome the recent signals coming from the White House and Senate that the renomination of Kristine Svinicki and the closeout of the Jaczko era will be fast tracked. The committee looks forward to rescheduling the hearing when the commission is whole with a new chairman and four commissioners seated, which will allow for a thoughtful discussion on the future of the NRC and examining lessons learned," the three said in a statement.

After Jaczko resigned early last week, the White House on Thursday nominated Macfarlane, an associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University, to replace him. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., both said Macfarlane should be confirmed along with Svinicki, whom both had previously criticized. Boxer told National Journal on Thursday that she plans to hold a hearing on both nominees "soon after" the Memorial Day recess.