This ain’t beanbag

When you get in the way of Big Energy and their profits, the shit will hit the fan:

WASHINGTON — A feud at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where five presidentially appointed commissioners oversee the safety of the nation’s nuclear power reactors, has broken out into full public view, with Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s fellow commissioners assailing his character and management style, both in a letter made public earlier this month and in the resulting testimony before Congress.

Republicans have begun calling for Jaczko’s ouster.

“The situation at the NRC sounds dire,” wrote Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) in a letter to President Barack Obama, “leaving me very concerned that the Chairman is unable to lead the Commission in the fulfillment of its responsibilities.”

On K Street, energy lobbyists have rallied to support the four other commissioners.

So far, the White House is standing by Jaczko, one of the least industry-friendly leaders to serve at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a generation.

For Washington’s tight nuclear policy circle, where scientifically trained political operatives move back and forth between the industry, the NRC, the Department of Energy and key congressional committees, it’s déjà vu. Interviews with several senior officials who worked on nuclear energy policy in the 1990s reveal that at least two of those operatives — both with strong ties to the nuclear industry — were closely involved in the ouster of an earlier reformist regulator and are now involved in the current drama.

What’s unfolding at the NRC is a textbook example of a little-discussed corporate tactic that is employed against public officials in extreme situations. Observers of the way Washington works tend to describe the corruption of the political system and the people within it in terms of action and reward: Do what industry wants, and benefit both professionally and personally. But when carrots aren’t enough, corporations have sticks to swing, too.

Susan McCue, who served as chief of staff for Jaczko’s former employer and chief Democratic supporter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), wasn’t surprised to see the industry strategy at work.

“They have a lot of power, and they wield it,” said McCue. “They can’t tell Chairman Jaczko what to do, and I think that frustrates them.”

One thought on “This ain’t beanbag

  1. So, the one chicken who ain’t guarding the henhouse in the interest of the industry gets his ball cut off? Hell, why have a regulatory agency that can’t regulate in the interest of safety for the general public?

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