IG report rips NRC chair as abusive, misleading, and political

posted at 12:50 pm on June 10, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

A long-awaited report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Inspector General paints a damning picture of Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who has played a key role in delaying the NRC from reporting on a safety study of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository.  The report prompted House Oversight and Reform Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) to issue this statement earlier this morning:

“The NRC Inspector General’s report paints an embarrassing picture of a bully whose use of deceit and manipulation is ruining the integrity of a respected independent regulatory agency. It’s quite clear that closer Congressional scrutiny of the NRC and the role the Obama Administration’s agenda has played in Chairman Jaczko’s unilateral actions is warranted and necessary.”

In order to understand the background, let’s first turn to Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal.  How exactly did Jaczko end up as chair of the NRC, and why?

This tale begins in 2008, when candidate Obama was determined to win Nevada, a crucial electoral state. Catering to locals, Mr. Obama promised to kill plans—approved by Congress—to make the state’s Yucca Mountain the repository for spent nuclear fuel. He was backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevadan who has made Yucca’s demise an overriding priority.

Shortly after inauguration, Messrs. Obama and Reid teamed up to elevate Gregory Jaczko to chair the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the nation’s independent regulator. Mr. Jaczko was anything but a neutral designee, having served for years on the staffs of both Mr. Reid and Massachusetts’ antinuke Rep. Edward Markey. As a Reid adviser, Mr. Jaczko headed up opposition to Yucca. The clear intent in making him chairman was to ensure Yucca’s demise.

Toward that end, the Obama Department of Energy quickly filed a formal request with the NRC to revoke the license application for Yucca. A coalition of states and industry groups—drowning in spent fuel—then petitioned to prevent the department from doing so. The issue was thrown to a panel of NRC administrative judges. Much to the administration’s frustration, they ruled unanimously in June of last year that the Energy Department lacked the authority to “singlehandedly derail” a policy that had been directed by Congress.

That didn’t stop Jaczko, however.  The administrative decision was appealed to the commissioners themselves, comprising three Democrats and two Republicans.  One Democratic commission recused himself from the vote (Strassel doesn’t explain why), and a tie vote would leave the administrative ruling in place.  The vote took place last September, and it resulted in … well, no one actually knows for sure.  Shortly after conducting the vote, Jaczko withdrew his own and stalled the appeal.

Why is this timing important?  Jaczko’s former boss, Harry Reid, had to stand for re-election in Nevada, where Reid had promised to end the Yucca Mountain repository project.  An adverse ruling would mean that the NRC would have to consider the safety report, which has been finished for some time.  What does it say?  We don’t know, because Jaczko has been using his executive authority as chair to keep the report from being published.  We can assume, however, that if the report concluded that the Yucca Mountain site would not safely contain nuclear waste, Jaczko would be the first to proclaim it from the rooftops.

Republicans in Congress then requested an investigation by the Inspector General, Hubert Bell, who reported on his findings with the ominous subject heading of “NRC Chairman’s unilateral decision to terminate NRC’s review of DoE Yucca Mountain Repository licence application,” emphasis mine.  Why unilateral?  According to the report, Jaczko kept his fellow commissioners in the dark on his activities, using the circumstances of the series of continuing resolutions to cancel all processing of the DoE’s Yucca Mountain application, using his executive budgetary authority.  Jaczko told staff that he had unanimous concurrence from his fellow commissioners in doing so, but that was not the case.  In fact, one Republican commissioner never got told about it at all, and the other Republican commissioner “strongly” objected to Jaczko’s plan when informed of it.  The two Democrats told the IG that they weren’t fully informed of the implications of Jaczko’s actions.

Furthermore, Jaczko used his executive authority to intimidate the other commissioners as well.  Specifically, Jaczko “used foreign travel as an incentive for supporting him on issues” by denying requests from commissioners who opposed him on policy.  One commissioner won’t accept invitations from host countries to speak at conference any longer because of Jaczko’s arbitrary and tardy responses to requests.  Another related to the IG that Jaczko specifically threatened to withhold foreign-travel approval if the commissioner didn’t withdraw a request for additional staff for all five commissioners.

Jaczko’s response as related by the IG is illuminating, to say the least, emphases mine:

As Chairman, he has tools that he uses to manage the agency, including the Commission, and to negotiate and get leverageOne such tool is his discretion to approve foreign travel.  It was his responsibility to decide who best represented the agency, and if he had colleagues who did not support him on votes, he was not likely to send them and represent the agency on international travel.

Jaczko told the IG that “there is nothing unethical or inappropriate about that.”  Your mileage may vary.

As you might imagine, such a man doesn’t exactly contribute to a positive working atmosphere:

Commissioner staff members told OIG of incidents they perceived as unprofessional behavior by Chairman Jaczko toward their Commissioners or members of the staff.  … Several current and former Commission staff members said the Chairman’s behavior caused an intimidating work environment.  A former Chairman told OIG that the Chairman often yelled at people and his tactics had a negative effect on people.  He described the behavior as ruling by intimidation.

It sounds as if Barack Obama appointed a wanna-be dictator rather than a chairman of a committee, who sees the NRC as his personal fiefdom and his mandate as carrying the political water of his former boss and mentor, Harry Reid.  It’s a disturbing portrait of a bureaucrat run amuck, a power-hungry bully who desperately needs exposure.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to discuss this report on Tuesday, and its Senate counterpart will do the same on Thursday.  Jaczko is apparently scheduled to testify in both hearings.  It should make for an interesting and enlightening look into the politics of the Obama administration and the machinations of Harry Reid.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

enlightening look into the politics of the Obama administration and the machinations of Harry Reid.

Cliff’s Notes: more power in less hands.

WashJeff on June 10, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Why are all these appointees such a-holes? I guess when you don’t base your reasoning on logic, you just have to rely on being a jerk when people disagree with you.

strictnein on June 10, 2011 at 12:58 PM

He can get fired. No one disses Obama sock puppets without paying a price.

seven on June 10, 2011 at 12:58 PM

YOU RANG?

saint kansas on June 10, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Why the hell do members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission need to travel to foreign countries to speak at conferences on the taxpayer’s dime, anyway? I thought we were drowning in debt.

playblu on June 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to discuss this report on Tuesday, and its Senate counterpart will do the same on Thursday. Jaczko is apparently scheduled to testify in both hearings. It should make for an interesting and enlightening look into the politics of the Obama administration and the machinations of Harry Reid.

I figure that Weiner boy won’t be resigning before the end of next week, then.

teke184 on June 10, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Gee, an Obama appointee is a power-mad bureaucrat and an inept administrator who is using his office solely to advance his own political objectives, rather than serving the public interest.

Color me shocked. Not.

Just more business as usual in this corrupt and incompetent administration.

AZCoyote on June 10, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Well this slug fits right in with bho and all his other team! The whole bunch are beyond crooked.
L

letget on June 10, 2011 at 1:01 PM

I wonder what is Reid’s objection to Yucca? If I lived in NV I’d probably be for it.

Paul-Cincy on June 10, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Corruption is at the core of everything the Democraps do.

Jaibones on June 10, 2011 at 1:04 PM

The Chicago way has permeated every agency.

KeepOhioRed on June 10, 2011 at 1:10 PM

The solution is so obvious and simple. Fire the IG.

29Victor on June 10, 2011 at 1:11 PM

I will state that my job has been rendered more difficult by the current NRC chairman. In theory, the NRC is non-partisan, but Jaczko gives the lie to that theory.

2012 cannot come soon enough.

Physics Geek on June 10, 2011 at 1:11 PM

I wonder what is Reid’s objection to Yucca? If I lived in NV I’d probably be for it.

Paul-Cincy on June 10, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Typical NIMBY / “watermelon” crap.

Parts of Nevada don’t like the idea of storing the nation’s nuclear waste, even though they’ve been contracted to do it for around 30 years, while the “greenies” are using this as a way to shut down nuclear power despite it being much cleaner than coal or other methods.

teke184 on June 10, 2011 at 1:14 PM

The concept of checks and balances, as well as accountability, appears to be alien to this administration. Is this another example of why the O administration was awarded for its transparency? What a joke!

onlineanalyst on June 10, 2011 at 1:15 PM

I just so, so happy that the traditional media in the USofA is shedding so much light and understanding on this situation where a political appointee and a Democrat elected official have conspired to accomplish the goals of said elected official. If I had to thank my lucky stars that I am not living under a repressive regime where the media, both print and television is not in collusion with the government to… to… discourage primary reporting and investigation as opposed to mere bloggers who… wait a minute…. WHAT!!??
.
.
.
.
.
So, I guess Gregory Jaczko and Steven Chu can sit around and talk about particle physics to the media bloggers each other until they, what, solve GoreBull Warming?

ExpressoBold on June 10, 2011 at 1:20 PM

It sounds as if Barack Obama appointed a wanna-be dictator rather than a chairman of a committee, who sees the NRC as his personal fiefdom

But healthcare will be so much better when these types of people take it over.

/sarc

rbj on June 10, 2011 at 1:24 PM

The concept of checks and balances, as well as accountability, appears to be alien to this administration. Is this another example of why the O administration was awarded for its transparency? What a joke!

onlineanalyst on June 10, 2011 at 1:15 PM

“Just write the check, don’t worry about the balance”

O’Bama’s first executive order.

BobMbx on June 10, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Nothing to see here… Move along…

Khun Joe on June 10, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Physics Geek on June 10, 2011 at 1:11 PM

.
O/T: “I took some chicken, yeah, I put some cheese on it…”
.
HILARIOUS! Good Dog!

ExpressoBold on June 10, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Why wouldn’t a would be dictator appoint a “fellow traveler”?

clnurnberg on June 10, 2011 at 1:39 PM

” A coalition of states and industry groups—drowning in spent fuel—…”

Anyone remember that little earth quake and extra high tide in Japan not too long ago…

… Anyone want to take a guess as to what was the cause of all the fuss that was stored on-sight that started to get a little warm when it stopped being cooled?

Now thanks to Obowma, Harry Reid, and this anal fister…

… guess what is not sent to Yucca Mountain anymore and is stored “on-sight” in the US?

Seven Percent Solution on June 10, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Billions of dollars and years of research and construction went into Yucca Mountain to address the very serious concern on where to store spent fuel away from population centers…

… and Obowma and Reid shut it down without having a working back up plan in place to address the issue.

Happy…?

Seven Percent Solution on June 10, 2011 at 1:44 PM

teke184 on June 10, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Nimbys and Greenies. Sure. I meant, what GOOD reason is there for not using Yucca? :)

Paul-Cincy on June 10, 2011 at 2:04 PM

POLITICIANS in both parties are corrupt?

WHO KNEW?

PappyD61 on June 10, 2011 at 2:08 PM

And this is exactly the kind of case that Impeachment is designed for.

LarryD on June 10, 2011 at 2:11 PM

If only Jaczko had emailed the report to Palin.

sleepy-beans on June 10, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Hey, this agency needs a private militia just like the Dept. of Ed!

PattyJ on June 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Just some more of that “Chicago Style” politics from the ‘most honest, most open, most transparent administration, evah!’

GarandFan on June 10, 2011 at 2:38 PM

I hope Congress makes this guy sweat to the point of breaking. You can’t be this corrupt, and smart, and not fall apart in the webs of lies, and deceit this man has obviously created around himself.

capejasmine on June 10, 2011 at 2:54 PM

I seem to recall that power companies that have nuclear plants, were suing the NRC/administration for something like $58 billion for breach of contract when the Yucca Mtn site was “shut down”. Whatever happened to that lawsuit?

Dasher on June 10, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Look for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Inspector General to be FIRED!

End of story.

Freddy on June 10, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Catering to locals, Mr. Obama promised to kill plans—approved by Congress—to make the state’s Yucca Mountain the repository for spent nuclear fuel.

one small point…the locals in the counties surrounding Yucca are fine with it…so it is not the local locals, it is the rest of Nevada.

r keller on June 10, 2011 at 3:22 PM

It sounds as if Barack Obama appointed a wanna-be dictator rather than a chairman of a committee, who sees the NRC as his personal fiefdom

So in other words, Obama got just what he was looking for.

We are a banana republic.

jnelchef on June 10, 2011 at 3:40 PM

We can assume, however, that if the report concluded that the Yucca Mountain site would not safely contain nuclear waste, Jaczko would be the first to proclaim it from the rooftops.

Unless these Democrats only pay lip service to this celebrity cause, having no real intention to deliver as promised.

maverick muse on June 10, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Another example of the corrupt Obama Regime ruling by fiat and edict and decree and ignoring the rule of law.

Adjoran on June 10, 2011 at 3:56 PM

If he was acting alone this is a huge story of playing politics with public safety.

If he coordinated this with Reid or others this is a massive story.

However, like Rezko, Jaczco will be ignored by the state media.

AshleyTKing on June 10, 2011 at 4:22 PM

“The NRC Inspector General” …

Will be unilaterally fired by President Obama without notice, warning, or proper cause… like the last IG that got into something Obama didn’t want the public to know about.

I mean just because it violates the law, is outside Obama’s powers as President, and skips the proper procedures to allow the IG to have any value… that’s no reason to expect Obama to do anything different is it?

gekkobear on June 10, 2011 at 4:33 PM

“Abusive, misleading, political”

Isn’t that pretty much the entire Obama Administration?

neoavatara on June 10, 2011 at 4:39 PM