tv [untitled] June 18, 2012 3:00pm-3:30pm EDT
offers the opposition 40% of an irrelevant parliament, and the west can wipe its hands of this dirty business. but that's, you know, purely, it's unacceptable i think to the opposition. and i think it should be unacceptable to us. >> what i would like to do now is thank all the panelists who have participated, as well as the syrian delegation who has come a long way, not only geographically to be able to come here today to washington as the guests i believe in this case of the foundation for the defense of democracies, i should say i'm not a syria expert. i'm just the humble moderator of this panel. but whenever i want to learn what is going on in syria, i always turn to the analysis, the published essays, and the blogs of the four panelists who are here today. and i would urge all of you to give them a great round of applause and to do likewise. thank you very much. [ applause ]
jpmorgan chase ceo jamie dimon travelled to capitol hill last week to answer questions about various trades made by his company that ended up losing several billion. he is back tomorrow for more. this time from the house financial services committee. we'll have live coverage of his testimony starting at 9:30 a.m. eastern here on c-span3. next month, award winning author and historian david pietrusz is our guest on book tv's in-depth. his passion for u.s. presidents
and the great american pastime, baseball, has resulted in a dozen books, including "1920: the year of the six presidents." "1960." and rost steen about the fixing of the 1919 world series. join us live with the calls, e-mails and tweets for david pietrusza on book tv's in-depth on c-span2. last week president obama's nominee to head the nuclear regulatory commission promised to create positive working relationships with her fellow commissioners. a reference to concerns about her predecessor, gregory jaczko. if confirmed, professor allison macfarlane would be the first geologist to head the commission. he is appeared before the senate environment and public works committee during this 2:10 hearing. >> we've been discussing the best way to proceed because we
know senators have schedules. we'll withhold our opening statements and allow you to do your introductions. we'll start with senator blumenthal, please, introducing the nominee for chairman. >> thank you, madam chairman. and ranking member inhofe. i'm very, very honored today to introduce allison macfarlane, president obama's nominee to head the nuclear regular story commission. i want to thank the chairwoman and members of the committee for giving me this opportunity. she was born in hearted for, raised in avon, went to avon high school, which is an area a
few miles north and west of hartford, our capital. i think supremely well qualified to head the nuclear regulatory commission at this critical point in its history and our nation's. she is a remarkable scholar and leader and a person of genuine vision and courage, and she has been an associate professor of environmental science and policy at george mason university since 2006. but she has been in a variety of academic positions at harvard, stanford, and other universities before the one that she has now. she's also served on the blue ribbon commission established by the president, a 15-member commission which produced a report very recently that
addresses one of the principle challenges for the nrc in coming years to develop an integrated nuclear waste facility management program, and make sure that we move from spent pools to dry cast in as many of our nuclear facilities as possible. this issue is extraordinarily important to connecticut, because of our connecticut yankee and our millstone plants where some of our fuel is still stored in pools and where we have a substantial amount of nuclear waste. and the interest of connecticut in this issue is very, very profoundly significant. dr. macfarlane is not only a person of academic and scholarly distinction, but she is also a person of great collegiality and integrity. and i am very proud to introduce her to this committee and to
support her for this profoundly important position. and i hope that members of the committee, i know they will, will be as impressed as i am by her personal, her professional, and her academic distinctions and her qualifications for this profound di important position. thank you very much, madam chairwoman. >> thank you, senator. and senator sessions is going to reintroduce the honorable kristine svinicki, commissioner. >> thank you, chairman boxer and ranking member inhofe and members of the committee. it's a delight for me to be able to introduce this morning to kristine svinicki. she's no stranger to the committee having appeared before us five other times in the last several years. i've personally known kristine for more than seven years, time enough for me to show and learn what an impressive and good person she really is. let me tell you a few things about her. she was born and raised in
jackson, michigan, a midsized town in the southern part of the state. her grandfather svinicki came to america from eastern europe to work in the iron mines of michigan. kristine is the youngest of seven children of amel and james svinicki. her father was an army veteran of world war ii, although her father never spoke about his war experiences as is so often the case. kristine and her siblings were surprised and very moved to learn that after his death of his multiple commendations for valor and combat, including two bronze stars of which he never talked. after the war, amol svinicki was the first of his family to go to college, attending illinois institute of technology, in chicago studying architecture. kristine was raised to understand that her parents valued education above all else. so although she lost both of her parents to illness by the time she was 20, she knew that they would want her to finish her college degree, which she did,
graduating from the university of michigan with a bachelor of science and nuclear engineering appropriately. in 1988. since then, kristine has been a true public servant applying her many talents and keen intellect to the benefit of the nation that she loves so dearly, approaching now three decades of public service. after college she worked for the state of wisconsin, at the public service commission where she learned about the regulation of electric power companies, from there she took a position with the u.s. department of energy at their idaho operations office, working on nuclear waste programs associated with the department of energy's idaho nuclear laboratory. she eventually transferred to doe's headquarters in washington. she came to capitol hill as a brookings institute legislative fellow in 1997. she decided to continue working on the hill as a permanent
staff. i came to know kristine when she was hired as staff member of the senate armed services committee in 2005 by senator john warner, then chairman of the committee. chairman boxer and inhofe will probably control that senator warner gave her an especially warm introduction when her first confirmation hearing occurred here in 2007. he referred to kristine as, quote, one of the extraordinary persons, closed quote, that he has served with in his three decades in the senate. kristine's work also supported me in my role as chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee and armed services. her knowledge of nuclear security and nuclear defense issues, which we dealt with or which she was the lead staffer was acknowledged and appreciated by the staff members on both sides of the aisle and her work was highly regarded.
i was very impressed. she was one of the best i've ever worked with, i valued her opinion greatly. in fact, she was still working on the armed services committee staff when she was nominated in 2007 by president bush to serve on the nuclear regulatory commission. and her nomination was strongly supported by senators serving on the armed services committee on both sides of the aisle, she was confirmed in 2008 by unanimous consent as a commissioner. she's demonstrated a strong commitment to understanding the practical effects of nrc regulation at the facilities that they regulate. for example, she's visited approximately half of the nuclear power plants in the united states. she takes a practical as well as a theoretical approach to her work. the nrc has seen its share of controversy in the past several years, and through it all kristine has exhibited tremendous character,
professionalism, and courage. although members of her family were not able to travel to washington, d.c. to be here today, she has the enthusiastic support of her siblings spread across the country, as well as her many nieces and nephews, some of whom are tuned in to the webcast, i'm sure cheering her on today. i know her parents and grandparents would be very proud her today, as i am and as are many of her fellow supporters and friends. she's earned the respect of many employees at the nrc who wish her success today and very much want to see her return to the commission for another term. >> thank you very much, madam chairman. >> thank you very much, senators. now the senators are welcome to go on to their next activity. and i'm sure that the nominees are extremely grateful to both of you for your wonderful introductions. and we thank you very much. we'll do our opening statements
and then we'll hear from first dr. macfarlane and then the honorable kristine svinicki and then consider nominations. today we consider the nomination of dr. allison macfarlane as chairman of the nrc and the renomination of kristine svinicki to the nrc. the nrc is the key federal agency charged with ensuring safety at the nation's 104 commercial nuclear reactors, safety. that is the mission. nothing underscores the important role played by the nrc more than the fukushima disaster. that disaster in japan was a wake-up call to each of us that safety at our power plants, nuclear power plants can't be taken for granted and must reflect the lessons of fukushima. i want to remind everyone here today what happened in japan about a year ago, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the
coast, triggering a tsunami that is reported to have reached up to 45 feet high and stretched up to six miles inland. the fukushima daiichi nuclear plant was hit hard. it lost power. explosions tore apart buildings. containment structures were damaged. three nuclear reactors melted down and radiation poured out into the environment. people's lives were uprooted by evacuations to avoid the threat of radiation poisoning. many of those men, women and children have yet to return to their homes and some may never get back. as i reflect on the fukushima disaster i think of communities in my home state of california. those communities are right close to two nuclear facilities, the san onofre power station and the diablo nuclear power plant. nearly 8.7 million people live within 50 miles of san onofre.
and almost 500,000 people live within 50 miles of diablo canyon. the thought of those families facing an unimaginable accident, even a fraction of what the people of japan faced during the fukushima disaster makes me even more vigilant about safety when it comes to nuclear power. much more work needs to be done by the nrc in the aftermath of fukushima. as i review the activities of the nrc, i feel without the leadership of the current chairman, we would be even further behind on safety than we are. i am impressed by the president's nominee, dr. macfarlane, who brings to this position the critical experience, the intelligence, scientific background, and integrity that we need so much at the nrc. i ask unanimous consent to place in the record statements of support for dr. macfarlane, including one from the union of concerned scientists, which stated "we expect her to be a strong advocate for practical
steps to enhance nuclear power, safety, and security." and in addition i would like to place in the record the nuclear energy institute letter urging us to, quote, confirm dr. macfarlane expeditiously. so dr. macfarlane, i look forward to hearing your views on the role of the nrc and ensuring the safety of the american people. regarding commissioner svinicki's nomination, i am troubled by her statements that she did not work directly on yucca mountain, which she clearly did. i also believe commissioner svinicki has not demonstrated the commitment to safety that the american people have a right to expect in this post-fukushima era. just yesterday, just yesterday i learned that commissioner svinicki actively oppose mid reasonable request for an nrc investigation into how a redesign of the san onofre nuclear plant occurred without proper oversight by the nrc. she did not support that
request. now that plant is shut down, shut down, due to unexplained deterioration of steam generator tubes containing radioactive material. had commissioner svinicki's position prevailed, we would have seen stonewall big the nrc. i want to thank commissioner ostendorff and jaczko for not allowing the stonewalling to occur. and i ask unanimous consent to place in the record letters of opposition to commissioner svinicki's renomination. now, one of these was a letter written by 94 organizations who said during her first term as an nrc commissioner, ms. svinicki uniformly voted for nuclear industry interest at the expense of public health and safety. and a letter that came from another set of concerned americans said, quote, since the
fukushima catastrophe began, commissioner svinicki voted against an advisory committee on reactor safety recommendation for measures to address accident risk posed by the hotter reactor cores and higher pressures associated with power up rates against measures to improve security screening for personnel gaining access to reactors, against measures to increase nrc enforcement direction, discretion for reactors that do not comply with fire regulations and against measures to gather more information to enhance control of leaks and radioactive materials. and she voted in favor of adding further consideration of the costs of burden of nrc regulations to industry by requiring nrc staff to analyze the cumulative financial impact of all the regulations on licenses. what's key here to me is the safety of the people. now, my two nuclear power plants
happen to be located on or near earthquake faults and tsunami zones. and all i could tell you is this. the burden on the nrc should be taken seriously by every commissioner. the safety of millions of people, women, men, children rests on your shoulders. and so for me post-fukushima, i will be supporting people who i believe will put the safety of the people ahead of the special interests. that is critical to me. and so as we move on, i will be asking questions. the american people have a right to expect the best public servants in these critical positions. and i now turn to ranking member inhofe for his opening statement. >> thank you, madam chairman. one of the senate's most important responsibilities is to offer a service and provide
consent to the president's nominations, and that's what we're doing here today. the nomination of kristine svinicki to continue to serve on the nuclear regulatory commission is crucial, especially as the commission enters a tumultuous time with a lack of transparent leadership while continuing to make important decisions regarding nuclear safety. five years ago she was confirmed by this committee as was stated in her introduction, and in the senate by unanimous consent. president obama has taken the prudent step to renominate her to serve in another five-year service. ms. svinicki's qualifications are stellar. prior to her term on the nrc, she had many years of experience on capitol hill serving as staff on the armed services committee where i serve now as a second ranking member. and i enjoy my service with her at that time. in her current role as commissioner, her contribution has been essential as the commission has worked to unravel
lessons learned from the fukushima accident. commissioner svinicki's perspective was also crucial in finalizing the commission's view of vogel and summer nuclear plants, the first two new nuclear plants licenses in over 30 years. her voting record at the nrc shows that she is a conscientious and objective policy maker and a strong dedication to safety. her demonstration collaborated with her commission colleagues shows her to be a studious, thoughtful, and compelling with an admiral in the capacity to produce bipartisan results. so we're considering also the nomination of dr. allison macfarlane to complete the term of chairman jaczko. given the numerous reports of chairman jaczko's failed leadership to the nrc, it was right of him to resign last month. i'm glad it happened. and by removing himself from distraction to the agency, the
commission can once again focus on its mission of nuclear safety. it's my expectation that dr. macfarlane can step in to be a valuable member of the commission, although i have some concerns about perhaps a lack of background in management experience. that's something that certainly she'll pick up quickly as well as areas of nuclear safety. while she is obviously very well informed on the back end of the fuel cycle, i hope her previous research and publications won't inhibit her ability to be fair judge of the licensing of nuclear waste repository. despite those modest concerns, i think we can agree the nrc functions most effectively as a full commission. i'm encouraged to hear from her individual meetings with my staff that she intends to treat her peers, both fellow commissioners and the general staff at the nrc as equals and as valuable knowledgeable base.
i'm certainly expecting that that will happen. i had a chance to visit with dr. macfarlane, and i probably shouldn't say this in a meeting like this, but i said i'd like to have kind of the same relationship as i do with lisa jackson, the director of the epa. she's always been very honest with me. while we have disagreements, i'm sure we'll have the same relationship and i look forward to it. thank you, madam chairman. >> thank you so much. senator carper. >> thank you, madam chair. i just want the start my statement with a question of dr. macfarlane. how do you pronounce your name? >> due want an answer? >> yes. >> macfarlane. >> thank you. and we've never mispronounced commissioner svinicki's name. we have the potential to butcher names badly here. hopefully we'll get yours right. but your name is misspelled, i would note that, dr. macfarlane.
i want to welcome both ms. svinicki and dr. macfarlane to our committee. quite favorably impressed by the technical breadth and depth our two nominees and by the set of skills that each one has already brought. the other -- would bring if confirmed to the nuclear regulatory commission. i'm encouraged the president would move to nominate dr. macfarlane to serve as commissioner and to chair the nrc. i'm also pleased that he submitted the name of kristine svinicki to serve a full five-year term on the commission. hopefully we can make a decision on both these nominees before june 30th of this year, so the commission will have a full compliment of commissioners and new chair to lead it. i believe it's important to have a fully functioning commission. because the today the nrc is addressing some of the pressing issues that the nuclear industry has faced in years. clarity in leadership as we face the future is critical.
under this committee's encouragement, the nrc is reviewing our domestic nuclear fleet and implementing lessons learned from the japan fukushima daiichi crisis that occurred last year. crisis that occurred last year. we need to make sure that every precaution is being taken to safeguard the american people from a similar nuclear disaster here. just a few months ago the nrc approved the construction of four new nuclear reactors and an undertaking the united states has not witnessed in some 30 years. the events that disabled the fukushima daiichi plant last year is a reminder that adequate preparation and response planning are vital to minimize injury and death when it does happen. in no small part because of the hard work of the nrc, there have been no direct deaths from nuclear power plant radiation exposure in this country. while i'm a strong proponent of clean energy, my top priority for our nuclear power has been and remains public safety. the past 11 years i work with
the nrc, my colleagues and the industry to ensure that we build and maintain a culture of safety in every one our 104 nuclear power plants. i expect and i believe the public expects the nrc to be a strong independent and effective regulator. a regulator that acts prudently firmly and decisively. a regulator that acts openly and transparently. and a regulator that produces results and is worthy of the public's confidence in the executive and legislative branches of our government. in sum, the nrc must continue to work every day to ensure our nation's health, safety, and security while also endeavoring to protect our environment. commissioner svinicki has been a member of the commission for five years now. has appeared before this committee a number of times to answer questions since her nomination. over the course of those years, i've had the opportunity to
discuss a wide range of nuclear power issues with the commissioner, and while i may not have agreed with her on every single one of them, i found her to be knowledgeable, hardworking and committed to safety as well as to ensuring the nrc remains a strong and impartial regulator. and while i do not know dr. macfarlane, although i do know how to pronounce her name now, i welcome the opportunity to meet her, i met with her earlier this week for a wide ranging conversation of issues that will come before the nrc. by the conclusion of that meeting, i'm encouraged that her expertise, her experience, past leadership on some of the most pressing issues facing our country could bring a valuable and unique perspective on policy issues. i look forward to learning more about her and her views on the nuclear policy on the nrc today and the days ahead. at a time when there are so many challenges facing the nuclear industry, i hope this proves to be a productive hearing that
will enable to move forward through the nomination process for both commissioner svinicki and dr. macfarlane. in conclusion, i believe that both of these nominees clearly have the potential to play important leadership roles that will help to strengthen the nuclear regulatory commission and the critical work that it does for our nations for the coming years. i hope when the hearing is concluded, my colleagues on this committee will share that belief. we want to thank you both for being here today and for your willingness to serve our country on this important commission. i notice there are two young men sitting over your right shoulder there, dr. macfarlane. one of them is younger than the other. 10-year-old son graham, welcome today. thank you for sharing your mom. and to your dad, thank you for sharing your wife. and kristine, i don't know if you have any of your family here. but in absentia, we wish them well. thank you both. >> senator carper, thank you for recognizing the family of our soon to be we hope chairwoman, because i didn't know she had her family here. i'm very thrilled that you noted
them. senator alexander, you're next. >> thanks, madam chairman. senator inhofe, dr. macfarlane, commissioner svinicki, welcome. we're glad you're here. i've been very impressed with president obama's nominees to the nuclear regulatory commission. that includes dr. svinicki, or commissioner svinicki, who i know well. and i do not know dr. macfarlane, but i began to get to know her. and i noticed her distinguished background. i too belief it's important for our country to have a full compliment of members of the nuclear regular story mission. commission. i hope, madam chairman, we can make a prompt decision soon. i would like to -- rather than surprise you with the questions i'm going to ask when my time comes, i'd like to tell you about them in advance, that will help express my concerns and my attitude as i look forward to talking with you.