Facing quorum shortfall, Trump taps 3 nominees for Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Dive Brief:

  • President Trump has tapped three nominees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, including selecting current member Kristine Svinicki to chair the watchdog agency.
  • Also nominated are Annie Caputo, senior policy advisor for Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), and David Wright, a former regulator and President of Wright Directions LLC, a strategic consulting firm.
  • The NRC currently has just three members, and Svinicki's term expires in June. If she is not confirmed before the end of the month, the five-seat commission would lack a quorum and would be unable to issue decisions.   

Dive Insight:

The NRC regulates and oversees nuclear plants, a "vital responsibility" that several Republican lawmakers warned cannot be shirked.

In April, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden (R-OR) alongside other members of the committee called on Trump to ensure the commission continued to operate. "This situation could severely inhibit the NRC’s ability to execute its vital responsibility and hamper the nuclear industry," they wrote to the President.

Trump's nominations would avoid a situation similar to occurring at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where three vacant seats left the agency unable to issue decisions. 

Svinicki, the current chair of the NRC, was confirmed as a member of the commission in 2008 and renominated to a second term in 2012. She has worked as a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Department of Energy's headquarters and its Idaho Operations Office. Previously, Svinicki was an energy engineer with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Caputo is currently senior policy advisor for Sen. Barrasso, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. She has also worked for the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, dealing with nuclear energy issues. Caputo previously was Congressional affairs manager for Exelon Corp. 

Wright, president of Wright Directions LLC, headed the South Carolina Public Service Commission for 8 years and served as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in 2011. He was formerly elected to serve in the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1996. 

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