Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Markey Calls for Greater Transparency in NRC Decision-Making Process

Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today sent a letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, calling for the Commission to open its decision-making process to public examination. Unlike other independent regulatory agencies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not vote in public.

There is absolutely no reason why the NRC’s deliberations should be shrouded in the type of secrecy that characterized the old Soviet Politburo,” Markey wrote in the letter. “As an independent regulatory agency operating in a democracy, the Commission has an obligation to conduct, the public’s business in public to the fullest extent possible.”

Markey also expressed concerns about the use of notation voting, through which Commissioners privately circulate different versions of written decisions along with their “yes” or “no” vote. This practice has greatly curtailed the ability of the public to hear open debate on critical issues affecting nuclear reactors, materials, and waste regulation.

Members of Congress must cast their votes in public, and there is no reason why the NRC cannot join other independent regulatory agencies in doing the same,” Markey wrote.

In 2005, Markey offered an amendment to the Energy Advancement and Conservation Act to encourage the NRC to either hold more public meetings or for the results of non-public meetings to be made public, consistent with the requirements of the Sunshine Act, which sets public transparency standards for federal agencies.
Full text of Markey’s letter

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