Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko Resigns

CNN – Embattled Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko announced Monday he is resigning.

Jaczko, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has been under fire after complaints from Democrats and Republicans on the commission about his management style surfaced last year.

NY Times – Dr. Jaczko, chairman since May 2009 and the longest-serving member of the five-member commission, was an outsider and a maverick. He had drawn sharp criticism for helping to end government consideration of a proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, a volcanic ridge about 100 miles from Las Vegas, and for assuming some emergency powers at the commission after the triple meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors in March 2011.

Political gridlock will likely delay the appointment of a replacement for Jaczko.

Calls for Immediate Resignation

The Hill – House Science Committee Republicans called on Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko Monday to step down immediately instead of waiting for President Obama to name his successor.

“We welcome Chairman Jaczko’s resignation announcement and look forward to new stewardship at the NRC,” top Republicans on the committee, including Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas), said in a statement.

“However, because Chairman Jaczko conditioned his resignation upon confirmation of his successor, the problems associated with his troubled leadership will remain indefinitely. Accordingly, we call on him to step down from his post immediately and allow an acting chair to be appointed in his place.

Dr. Jaczko’s position raised the ire of some in the nuclear industry, who had hoped — and still do, in some cases — to be rid of the public relations burden of producing nuclear waste for which there is as yet no ultimate disposal plan. But the repository’s prospects were uncertain even if the commission had continued to pursue the Energy Department’s plan.

But Dr. Jaczko’s management of the agency rubbed his fellow commissioners the wrong way. Last year, all four of them — two Democrats and two Republicans — sent a letter to the White House chief of staff complaining about his management style. When the letter became public, the four commissioners told a House committee in December that Dr. Jaczko had withheld information from them, unprofessionally berated the agency’s professional staff and reduced female employees to tears with abusive comments. They said he had created a “chilled” atmosphere that was hurting the agency’s ability to function.

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