Controversial NRC Pick Sails

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


William Magwood, Barack Obama’s controversial pick to serve on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a member of our list of worst nominees, was supposed to spend some time in the hot seat during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. But the members of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee barely questioned Magwood about his lengthy resume working for nuclear interests and how that history would affect his ability to regulate the industry.

Magwood served as the head of the Office of Nuclear Energy within the Department of Energy from 1998 to 2005. But as I wrote when Magwood was nominated, he has also worked for Westinghouse, which makes nuclear reactors and has big business before the NRC. He has also worked as a private consultant for nuclear interests. The Project on Government Oversight, as well as other anti-nuclear and environmental groups, say Magwood’s boosterism for nuclear power should disqualify him from overseeing the industry.

One of the only senators to question Magwood directly about his work to promote nuclear power was the committee’s chair, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). But it wasn’t exactly what you would call a grilling.

“It is my firm opinion that the best service to the country and to the nuclear industry is to set a very, very high standard for safety and to do so in a way that the public has a great deal of confidence,” Magwood responded. He also told Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that he did not see any potential conflicts of interest over proposals expected to come before the NRC. No-one pressed him further.

Magwood and fellow Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominees George Apostolakis and William Ostendorff received hearty endorsement from both Republican and Democratic members of the panel. “It would be difficult for the president to find three better nominees,” said Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Even the panel’s more liberal members were equally enthusiastic about the nominees and their role in heralding a nuclear revival. “I’m a proponent of nuclear power,” said Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “I believe we stand on the cusp of a nuclear renaissance.”

Boxer said their nominations are expected to move forward later this month.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate