WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), and the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a hearing examining the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Fiscal Year 2017 budget request. All four NRC commissioners testified on behalf of the budget request.
Exercising oversight over the NRC, members questioned the commissioners on their work in overseeing the nation’s fleet of commercial nuclear power plants, the commission’s long-term staffing and budgetary needs, specifically as it relates to their efforts implementing cost-saving measures, known as “Project Aim 2020”, along with NRC related initiatives and regulatory activities.
In his line of questioning, committee member Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) expressed his concern with the NRC’s decision to sign a contract two days before the end of the last Fiscal Year for new office furniture while supposedly trying to right-size the agency, saying, “It looks bad two days before the end of the Fiscal Year to sign a $20 million contract. It just has a really bad odor to it.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) pressed Chairman Burns on the agency’s progress in implementing a long overdue management direction to improve the budget development process. Rep. Kinzinger asked for the commissioner’s assurance that the new management direction will be approved and fully in place for the FY18 budget development process. For an agency long-plagued by staffing and budgetary problems, Burns replied with a not very assuring, “It should be.”
“Nuclear energy is a major contributor to Illinois’ economic well-being and must remain so. Therefore, the agency’s efforts to right-size the organization and streamline efficiency are of great importance to me and my constituents. As a result, the committee will continue to provide close oversight of the commission to find further opportunities to increase efficiency and reduce the budget,” said Chairman Shimkus. “Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my dissatisfaction that once more the commission failed to include funding to continue consideration of the Yucca Mountain license application. I hope the commission is taking all steps to maintain the necessary expertise and infrastructure to continue consideration of the Yucca Mountain license application.”
For an archived webcast, witness testimony, and background memo click HERE.