Obama to nominate Macfarlane to replace Jaczko as NRC boss

President Obama on May 24 announced his intent to nominate Allison Macfarlane to serve as chairwoman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The news comes three days after Gregory Jaczko, who has come under fire from NRC colleagues and Republican lawmakers, announced plans to step down once the Senate confirms a replacement.

Macfarlane is an associate professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, a position she has held since 2006. Macfarlane served as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future from March 2010 to January 2012.

According to the Washington Post, Macfarlane has been critical of the proposed Yucca Mountain waste repository in Nevada. In 2006, she wrote a book entitled “Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-Level Nuclear Waste” that raised technical questions about the proposed nuclear waste site.

“The President has made clear that we need a strong NRC, and he believes Allison Macfarlane is the right person to lead the Commission,” said White House spokesman Clark Stevens. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is confident that like her predecessor, Dr. Macfarlane will make preserving the safety and security of American citizens her top priority as chair of the NRC.

“Dr. Macfarlane’s education and experience, in particular her service on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, make her eminently qualified to lead the NRC for the foreseeable future. The nuclear industry has a perfect opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to safety by supporting Dr. Macfarlane’s nomination,” said Reid.

The Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, Marvin Fertel, congratulated Macfarlane on her selection by the president.

“Given the importance of having a fully functioning, five-member commission to carry out the NRC’s safety mission, the nuclear energy industry urges the administration to submit her confirmation paperwork as expeditiously as possible,” said Fertel.  “It would not serve the public interest to have her nomination linger with the term of Commissioner Kristine Svinicki set to expire at the end of June.”