Click here or the image above 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 nomination of Jeff Baran to serve another term as a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as delivered.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Commissioner Baran, for being here with us today.

“Nuclear power is necessary to meet our energy and national security priorities, provide for a reliable electric grid, and achieve our environmental goals.

“Congress established our nation’s policy on the peaceful use of nuclear technology in the Atomic Energy Act.

“That policy remains as important and relevant today as it was when it was enshrined into law generations ago.

“The Atomic Energy Act states that the use of nuclear energy shall be directed to make the maximum contribution to the common defense and security, improve the general welfare, and increase the standard of living.

“To help achieve those goals, Congress provided the fundamental nuclear regulatory standard, called the “reasonable assurance of adequate protection.”

“This reasonable assurance standard guides how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asserts its authority to regulate the civilian use of radioactive materials.

“It provides the guideposts by which the NRC meets the agency’s mission to improve the general welfare, and protect public health and the environment.

“This morning, we will examine how Commissioner Baran’s record aligns with those dual pillars, the nation’s long-established nuclear energy policy goals, and the regulatory standards under which those goals are met.

“This is Commissioner Baran’s third nomination hearing before this Committee to serve on the NRC.

“As I have reviewed his record from his long tenure as a commissioner, I see a regulatory philosophy of unjustifiably increasing regulatory burdens, and reducing regulatory predictability, and adding costs.

“This policy approach is stifling innovation and squeezing the industry…is unacceptable at the best of times.

“But it is especially unacceptable at a time of transition in the nuclear fleet, which we’ve talked a lot about in this committee, increased demand for reliable and zero-emission sources of baseload energy…electric generation, and cutthroat international competition in the sector.

“I am concerned that this cumulative record, Commissioner Baran’s votes and the policies he has supported, may not align with what Congress expects, and the nation needs and deserves, with respect to nuclear power.

“I look forward to hearing his responses to questions about past decisions.

“Continuing down a path that would seem to follow from that past record will unnecessarily limit the deployment of safe nuclear energy and threaten America’s security and economic competitiveness.

“Congress has consistently provided significant support with strong bipartisan majorities to keep operating nuclear power plants online while developing and deploying modern, advanced nuclear technologies.

“New policies, recently approved by Congress, are in place to incentivize today’s nuclear power plants to increase power output and pursue license extensions.

“Policies are also set to facilitate the major private capital investments necessary to license, construct and operate our new reactors.

“The success of these policies will depend on how they are implemented in the next five years, the same timeframe as the term for which Commissioner Baran is nominated. 

“I’m concerned his past record shows that when multiple regulatory options exist, Commissioner Baran has consistently supported the more burdensome pathway and deviated from the reasonable assurance standard.

“He has voted to overturn previous Commission decisions with no new information to justify such a relook.

“In vote after vote, Commissioner Baran took positions that support the ratcheting up of regulations, and by extension compliance costs, to no useful end.

“This record, if continued, will severely curtail the outlook for nuclear energy in our future, cede international markets to Russia and China, and limit the Commission’s ability to deliver upon the vision set out by Congress at the dawn of the nuclear age.

“I will have some questions for the Commissioner on how he plans to correct course on these matters to reestablish America’s leadership in nuclear energy.

“I yield back.”

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