Snap Fact #203
President Obama Stands Up For The Environment At Yucca Mountain!
In 2005, George Bush appointed Gregory Jaczko to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In 2009 Mr. Jaczko was elevated to the Chairmanship of the Commission by President Obama. The new chairman has his roots deeply embedded in environmental concerns. The Commission’s mission is to protect the public safety. They are responsible for the oversight of 104 nuclear reactors throught the country. One of the biggest issues during his 3 year tenure as chairman has been Yucca Mountain.
Yucca Mountain has been identified as a potential storage facility for nuclear waste. The question of its use is complex of strands of controversial economic, environmental, and political issues. There are 4 commissioners, 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats, plus the chairman who are responsible for this complicated subject.
Jaczko is an experienced scientist whose credentials made him eminently qualified for the job. He not only had superior knowledge about the subject, he had concluded that opening the facility would present serious risks to the environment.
Unfortunately, the chairman’s people skills came up short and he has tendered his resignation effective either at the end of his term in June 2013, or as soon as a replacement can be installed. It seems as though he was frustrated fighting for what he believed in, not authorizing the Yucca waste site. His frustration took the form of inappropriate outbursts aimed at staff and fellow commissioners as well. The situation got so bad that all four of the commissioners appealed for his ouster. On May 21st he announced he would step down.
This leaves the President with a tricky political situation. Appointing a conservative (in this case that is an ironic appellation) to step in would swing the Commission’s vote to approval of the site. On the other hand, appointing another conservationist would trigger a fight in Congress.
Would the President cave or stand by his principles? Perhaps you have noticed that he is more and more standing up and fighting back. The President sprang into action and by May 24th he announced the nomination of 48 year old Dr. Allison M. Macfarlane, a professor of environmental science at George Mason University, to serve as chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.