tv Nuclear Regulatory Commission Oversight Hearing CSPAN December 29, 2017 2:40pm-4:18pm EST
drives cars and trucks and things like that. >> "the communicators" on business trends in the technology world is tonight on c-span at 8 p.m. eastern. >> this week "washington journal" features authors of key books published this past year. join us for our live conversation with authors about their popular books. coming up -- >> the chair and two commissioners from the nuclear regulatory commission recently testified before the senate environment and public works committee about a range of issues. including uranium exports,
nuclear storage safety, and cybersecurity. this is an hour and a half. >> good morning. i call this hearing to order. today's over second the village of the nuclear regulatory commission, , nrc. i'd like to welcome chairman svinicki, welcome and i'm sad to say the commission remains without its full strength of five commissioners. this is the situation i'm eager to resolve. i continually the commission functions best with all five commissioners in place. i'm a stock support of nuclear energy and it is a vital component of it all of the above approach to american energy. for a country to benefit from nuclear energy we need the nrc to be an effective efficient and predictable regulator. the nrc efficiency principle of
good regulation states quote the american taxpayer, the rate paying consumer, and licensees are all entitled to the best possible management and administration of regulatory activities. i agree. it is our committees responsible to assess the agencies performance. the nrc safety mission is paramount, the nrc must execute that mission in a fiscally responsible and timely fashion. my home state of wyoming plays a key role in the american nuclear energy supply. it produces more uranium than any other state. i want to commend the commission for agreeing to extend the duration of uranium recovery licenses from ten years to 20 years. this is an important recognition that the regulatory burden placed on these facilities is disproportionately high given how the nrc considers their operations to be quote low risk. the growth of this regulatory burden is clear in the month report. the nrc is taking far longer to
make uranium recovery decisions that it did ten years ago. this general lack of urgency is troubling. as uranium producers struck with depressed prices and production is a levels we haven't seen since the early 1950s, the need for timely decision-making from the nrc is greater than ever. the nrc is lagging in its progress toward instituting flat fees for routine uranium recovery licensing actions. these are fees on producers by the nrc that would not increase. for years seems be an inordinate amount of time for the nrc to institute flat fees given some of the agreements state many states that have assumed responsibility for regulating their uranium recovery facilities already have flat fees in place. wyoming is seeking to become an nrc agreement state and assume responsibility for regulating its uranium recovery facilities. while this would be a positive
step wyoming, it's also a strong verdict on the need for the nrc to prove -- improve its performance. improving performance with goal of the nrc project aimed 2020. quote, to transform the agency over the next five years this is to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and agility of the nrc. unfortunately project aim 2020 0 seems to be ending prematurely. the most recent project status report indicates the nrc will complete the vast majority of action items early next year and the staff on the long report on it. project aim 2020 is becoming project aimed 2018, yet the challenges facing the nrc remain. these include premature closures of nuclear power plants,, decrease licensing work at the nrc, declining new reactor reviews at the nrc. the nrc must continuously strive to improve its performance. this requires diligent leadership from the commission signed up for two having a
discussion with the commission about these important issues. following the opening statement by ranking member carper will continue with committees practiced on a five and opening statement from chairman svinicki and the two minutes from each of the commissioners. now i would like to turn to ranking member for statement. senator carper. >> thanks, mr. chairman. a special thanks to our chair for pulling this together i think it's a time hearing, one that we need to have his industry faces as you know real challenges these days but there's opportunities this industry can help us to address. nuclear industry something at a crossroads as we know. as the industry decides to take what ramifications not just for the industry but for our country and for the citizens. let me begin by noting it's important to examine the benefits as well as the drawbacks of nuclear energy. pursue for both nuclear power helps curb our nation flights on
dirty fossil fuels and reduces air pollution that threatens our health and climate. nuclear energy has been, continue get real economic driver in many places around the country, create construction jobs, manufactured jobs. despite all the benefits of nuclear power i would be remiss not to mention some of the potential consequences of nuclear energy. we've seen fencers frances incidents in places like fukushima the damaged nuclear power can cause if the proper safety precautions are not in place. and up to date or not strictly followed. with nuclear energy, , safety hs been and must remain a top priority in the operation of nuclear reactors. with nuclear energy, safety has been and must remain a top priority in the operation of nuclear reactors and that is a primary responsibility of this committee and especially the nuclear regulatory subcommittee of which i've been in the past a member for many years actually. the cost of safety precautions
along with the cost of construction operation maintenance of current nuclear reactors can be expensive as we know. especially compared to the cost of other sources of energy such as natural gas. some u.s. reactors would be retiring sooner than expected. our country's nuclear reactors are getting older and we need to be replaced in the years to come. building new reactors as we've seen a georgian south hill and has proven more difficult than predicted a decade ago. as most colleagues know i try to see the glass half full. i believe the challenges the nuclear industry faces can make it stronger and more efficient tomorrow and, frankly, make our nation stronger. if our country is smart we will replace aging nuclear reactors with new technology, developed in this country that is safer, produces less spent fuel and is cheaper to build and to operate. we see this opportunity as can be a leader in nuclear energy again as we once were. reaping the economic and clean air benefits to flow from the
leadership in order to do so we must make sure the nrc has the resources it needs to review these technologies and make certain current nuclear reactor fleet continues to be operated safely. since joining this committee i have worked closely with the number of our college to strengthen the call for stacy within the industry. due to our collective efforts and to the nrc leadership and the commissions dedicated staff, the nrc continues to be the world's gold standard for nuclear regulatory agencies. success at any organization starts with leadership and i must say i've been impressed with the current commissioner, commissioners at the nrc and its members ability to work together and i specially want to applaud our chair, kristine svinicki for the membership and services provided on the nrc and especially as archer. each commissioner brings a unique set of skills to the commission which has served the nrc and our country very well.
these three commissioners have done an excellent job. having a full complement of commissioners would be ideal. as my colleagues know the commission, , our committee has reported out several quality nrc nominees. i hope we can quickly confirm all three, giving nuclear industry critical migratory certainty at a a time when thes much uncertainty in other areas. an organization needs a strong dedicated workforce. with the necessary resources in order to be successful, and one-time nrc year after year rate as the top place in third,, to worker now number 11, better than other agencies but is not number one. why do what he taught but as how to get the nrc headed back to the topic budget cuts and it certainly play a big role in this change. i look forward to hearing from all of you by these issues and i want to hear what more we can do to better retain and recruit a quality workforce which is still
revered across the globe. i close with this thought. i have two sons, both boy scouts, proud they are eagle scouts. i used to take them down to the norfolk naval station, i'm a former naval flight captain. i would take them about every three or four years. 25 or 30 scouts, some adult elite and we spent a weekend at the naval station. had the opportunity to sleep in the barracks and eat in the galley and visit ships come some reason your creditors. one morning we visited the teddy roosevelt one sunday morning. norfolk naval station. the captain came to meet with us on the bridge and interest are scouts and the adult leaders and he said these words. he said boys, when the teddy was a ghost to see, it's 1000 feet long, long. and the boys go oooh.
it carries with the 5000 sailors and the scout scope oooh dickey said boys, but that it was a ghost to see it carries on board 75 aircraft, and the the boys went oooh or any said boys, when the teddy roosevelt to see, it doesn't refuel for 25 years here and the adults went oooh. i tell that story again today. we have challenges with respect to nuclear energy no doubt but also great opportunity. that's one of them, one of them. many years in the navy chasing, tracking nuclear sub brands. in the navy i don't know of a single photography between a personal in making of failure of the nuclear power plants, on ships and so forth. the last thing is we have real problems, challenges, still although we're making progress still a big challenges with respect to clean air.
nitrogen oxide, mercury, co2 and others. the good thing about nuclear,, maybe the best thing about nuclear is our biggest source of clean energy with none of those pollutants including especially co2. for all those reasons i think it's important we find a way to strengthen the industry and a big part is making sure with a strong interest great leadership at the top. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. i want to welcome the witnesses again, remind you your full written testimony will be made part of the official hearing today. i look for to hearing your testimony beginning with chair svinicki. >> thank you and good morning chairman barrasso, ranking member carper and distinguished members of the committee. my colleagues and i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the u.s. nrc licensing and regulatory actions since her last appearance. the commissions continued efforts to improve the agencies efficiency and effectiveness have focused on providing the appropriate level of resources to both corporate and
programmatic areas are continuing to carry out our bible safety and security mission without diminishment. in june 2014 the nrc established project aims to enhance the agencies ability to plan and execute its mission in a more efficient and effective manner. the agency continues to institutionalize the actions related to project aim and pursue additional activities that demonstrate the nrc's continued commitment to effectiveness, agility and efficiency. since the initiative began we have endeavored to forecast our work with greater accuracy and identify changes to our resource needs in this dynamic nuclear environment. in light of the uncertainty, the agency is pursuing activities such as standardizing and centralizing support staff functions of both our headquarters and regional offices and institutionalizing a common prioritization process to prepare the agency to evaluate emerging work more readily understand that more efficiently. we are implementing an enhanced
strategic workforce planning process to improve the training, agility and utilization of our very capable workforce. in a separate improvement initiative the nrc has analyzed its descending process to improve transparency equity building and timeliness. to improve transparency the agencies engage with stakeholders over the past few years to better understand their interests associated with how information is presented on invoices. based on these engagements the agency initiated several projects to improve how billable work is tracked and reported. after programmatic work we continued its pursuit of risk informed regulation through which we strive to put focus on those issues that are most important based on the safety significance. currently the embassy staff is evaluating and updating key risk informed decision-making guidance developing approach for using risk information on licensing reviews and implement
training requirements for agency staff, enhancing communication of risk activity and advancing other initiatives across the agency. the nrc has taken many steps over the last year to ensure uniform implementation of the agencies regulations which govern when the agency can oppose additional requirements and are an essential part of the stability of our regular framework. in support of this the staff is undertaking action to improve oversight by interstate managers and lead to more consistent identification and treatment of potential issues. the nrc continues to evolve its licensing process for operating reactors. for example, the nuclear industry is researching advanced fuel designs aimed at improving safety margins under both norma normal. several vendors are exploring candidate designs was referred to as accident tolerant fuel in response the nrc's helping plans to ensure we are prepared to
effectively and efficiently review these fuels to ensure their proposed use meets our high safety standards. the nrc has received four letters of intent to seek subsequent license renewal which would authorize operation of commercial power nuclear power reactors for up to 80 years. the rc has been preparing for these reviews for several years and has published final versions of the documents that provide guidance for applicants and the nrc tactical reviewers respectively. regarding activities associate with new reactors, although the licensees decide to discontinue construction of those new units in south carolina, the nrc's reactor program continues its focus in support of the activities necessary to ensure the safe construction of the two units under construction in georgia. the addressee has finalizing testing derogatory procedures that will be necessary to assess
the transition of these plans from the construction phase into the operating status. we document the first design, received an application for an early site permit for small modular reactor in tennessee, both reduce progressing on schedule. we continue our free application engagement with advanced reactor design and vendors. significant activity in the area of rulemaking is our rulemaking to improve the decommissioning, the deficiency of the process for operating reactors that he should get in the next few years. years. republish our predatory bases for the development of the proposed rule and concluded there is sufficient basis to proceed with new and modified regulations addressing emergency prepared is, physical security training financial requirements among other areas. we have received the request from the state of wyoming to achieve agreement state status and we received that application
package, working to complete the assessment of that package and it will be provided to the commission, the staff target is doing that in september 22. vermont has indicated its intent to pursue agreement state status for doing this active hurricane season the nrc responded to the hurricanes harvey, irma and marie in accordance with a response planted prc dispatch inspectors to the reactors impacted by the hurricanes to provide monitoring of the operators the good response and we worked closely with federal partners such as fema that we were also consistent with our practice evaluate both the agency and licensee responses to the hurricanes and diplomate any lessons learned to further improve our immediate response going forward. in closing the embassy continues to focus on efforts to achieve additional efficiencies with that any diminishment and are important public health and safety and security missions. on behalf of the commission i thank you for the somebody to appear before you and we will be pleased to answer your questions at the appropriate time.
thank you. >> thank you very much, chairman serenity. >> thank you, chairman, ranking member carper, members of the committee. they do but invitation to appear today. it's a pleasure to be with my college discussed discuss the e commissioner chair svinicki provide an overview. i want to briefly highlight a few important efforts underway at nrc. antecedents focus on post-fukushima post-fukushima safety enhancements. the commission is considering the draft final rule on mitigating beyond design basis. that will address a number of recommendations of the task force and is a culmination of years of work. the staff focus shifted oversight and spike and licensee of the mentation of several safety enhancements and natural hazard evaluations. decommissioning is a key issue for nrc. since 20136 euros reactors have permanently shut down and seven have announced plans to close in the coming years. despite the growing number of
units come in as he does regulation specifically tailored for the transition from operations to decommissioning. as a result licensees routinely seek exemptions from any of the regulations applicable to operating reactors. the decommissioning will make efforts underway will address this gap and it will allow us to move away from regulating by extension in this area. .. five vendors have begun discussions with staff to make additional members reaching out in the near future. we want to make sure we have efficient and effective
process for nonwhite water reactors and a wrap-up of our activities in this area. we're happy to discuss these and other areas of interest >> iq, commissioner burns. >> thank you chairman barrasso, ranking member carver and members of the committee. it's a pleasure to be here and i appreciate the opportunity to testify and address our dedication to the safety and security mission as we focus on ways to carry out that mission in an efficient and cost-effective manner. the chairman's testimony summarizes in my view the agencies significant efforts over the last several years to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. efforts that indeed continue. i fully supported these efforts during my tenure as chairman and in my current role as commissioner. the commission, our senior
leadership and staff have demonstrated a proactive and responsible approach to good government through these efforts. it's important to not lose sight of the fundamental safety and security mission of the nrc. it's congressionally mandated mission has driven the nrc and continues to be the central focus of what we do every day. having more than 37 years of my professional career with the nrc, i know there are times we had to learn from our experience, learn to do better and improve our performance as regulators but on the whole i can say without a doubt i think we hit the mark the vast majority of the time in achieving a high standard of performance. over the past year, we continued to hold the account is industry accountable, ensure the effectiveness of lessons learned from the fukushima accident, focused on cyber security, work effectively with our partners in the state to ensure the safety and secure use of radioactive material.
at the same time we've undertaken reviews of the first small modular reactors submitted for design certification and newly proposed facilities to produce radioisotopes for medical diagnostic treatment. and we prepare the strategies to prepare , better prepare for the review of reactors. credit belongs largely to the day-to-day work of our dedicated staff and making these efforts and achieving these accomplishments. i appreciate their day-to-day focus on ensuring adequate protection of the public. thank you for the opportunity and i will be pleased to answer your questions . >> thanks to all three of you and i'm going to start with questions. chairman svincki, in 2010 i wrote to president obama about my concerns about the sale of us uranium assets at uranium one which is a canadian company to a russian state owned company, i specifically raised concerns about future exports of us
uranium by uranium one. the obama administration's response to my letter was at best misleading. responding on behalf of the president, the former chairman of the nrc, in order to export uranium from the united states, uranium one which was the subsidiary of rosso from would need to apply for and obtain a specific nrc license authorizing the export of uranium for use in a nuclear reactor. we now know this is false. the uranium one did not need a specific nrc license to export us uranium.instead, uranium one only needed to be and later was listed as a supplier for the transport companies nrc export license. subsequently, uranium one uranium has been exported
overseas. on monday i sent a letter to the nrc and effort to find answers to why this response was so inaccurate from former commission chairman yes code. but chairman svincki, will you provide a timely and full response? >> yes chairman barrasso. we received your letter yesterday and i would note that as your letter makes clear, the responses you have received have not fully depicted the complexity of this issue and as nrc we welcome the opportunity to respond to the set of questions you've asked. it will allow us to depict it in context and more accurately than the responses you've received so we look forward to doing that . >> thank you very much. the state of wyoming is in the process of becoming a nrc agreement state. this means they would assume the role as primary regulator for institute uranium recovery. i understand wyoming submitted a final application to the nrc november 13 this
year. wyoming expects the nrc will be able to sign a formal agreement with my wyoming bites november 30 next year at the end of the fiscal year. you'll commit to meeting that deadline? >> chairman barrasso, the staff indicates they are on track to secure this matter for the commission for our review on the time frame you indicated.i know in the interim, it will be necessary for both the nrc staff and state of wyoming officials to continue to work through any issues so assuming that goes well, and i'm not aware of any impediments to that, my objective is to proceed on that timeframe's last month the nrc decided to increase the terms from uranium recovery licenses to 20 years. the nrc recognizes the low risk nature of the uranium
recovery activities. i applaud your leadership and the commissions decisions on that. this is an issue i raised a couple years ago in 2015. now that the nrc has made this decision i'd like to know how the commission plans. will the commission extend the licenses pending at the nrc world will be nrc act on a case-by-case basis? will existing licensees need to wait until their licenses are amended or of the renewal to attain a 20 year term and could you tell me, go through a little of that . what the plans are and will be nrc be issuing a guidance document and where can we expect that documents, just some clarification please . >> thank you for those questions. this is a fairly recent policy change made by the commission. some of the implementation you ask about is probably still under development but let me provide the details as i understand them.
we have two applications pending right now for renewal. we have contacted those two applicants and indicated, we told them about the policy change and indicated if they were to amend their application , we would receive , we would require some work to look at a different time frame for environmental safety review and look at the extended period. we've not received an indication whether or not the intent to amend their applications and resubmit and as far as otherapplications submitted going forward, those would come in under the new timeframe . >> a final question. in october this year, the nrc submitted a license as senate appropriators. the nrc's report states the nrc staff finalized an internal self assessment that buys possible efficiency improvements within the uranium recovery program. what can you tell us about these improvements? >> it's a host of measures. i can give you some examples and for the record we could respond more fully. of the things are to continue to urge applicants to have a very vigorous reapplication
engagements, to be able to provide better guidance to applicants on what a complete and full application needs to contain in order to be reviewed very efficiently by the agency. also, there will be new guidance for agency reviewers about, they will as they are developing information requests for applicants, they will make a connection with the safety findings that need to be made so i would characterize that many of them have to do with better communication with applicants during and before the application comes in and also improve training and guidance for nrc safety reviewers as they conduct the reviews. that's the nature of the improvements . >> senator, i'm on a timeline but i yield to that question. i'll ask my questions in the next round, thanks thank you so much chairman and ranking member for the review. as somebody focused on
assignment change i believe that nuclear power remains a vital tool in transitioning to a low carbon future. across our nation nuclear power generates more than half of all carbon free electricity and we must make improving the safety of nuclear power plants a priority if we are going to avoid disasters in the future. chairwoman svincki, the nuclear industry has a plan titled delivering the nuclear promise which aims to reduce operating costs by 28 percent. the nrc has a similar program whose objective is to reduce speed that nrc. how are you working to ensure these programs are addressing efficiency improvements also not cutting corners when it comes to safety? >> thank you senator.org. for our project initiative and as i noted in my opening comments and i thank my fellow commissioners as well, our vital safety and security mission is priority one and as we look as an agency and as a regulator to improve our efficiency, our number one
guiding bowl is that that not diminish our regulatory capability or in any way distract from our important mission. the industry's effort is their own, delivering the nuclear promise. however, we have been monitoring that activity along the way and if our experts were to determine that anything related to their efficiency efforts were to indicate some sort of like a focus on safety, we would engage under our framework with our concerns about anything they were proposing to do. to date we've not noticed that as far as their separate efforts. >> commissioners, do you have any comments or concerns? >> i would add i agree completely that has to be our focus and i think that maybe the biggest challenge the nrc has right now. in the last couple years we've made a lot ofchanges there , cast a lot of
efficiency so we've seen our workforce climate by 12 percent. this is a significant amount of change so making sure we are focused on our safety and security mission that we don't have any weakening of oversight is critical. >> thank you. >> i agree with what my colleague said. >> thank you. we can all agree that safety and security would not only be in danger but also the future of the entire nuclear industry. industry and safety stakeholders across my state have shared the nrc has a strong track record of intervening in safety issues when they occur at the nuclear power plant sites themselves. however, i am concerned by nrc's own safety culture within the nrc. internal data indicates the commissions workforce appears to be uncomfortable raising safety issues and mister
chairman, i'd like to ask consent to enter into the record this report by the union of concerned scientists, the regulatory review commission and safety culture, do as i say, not as i do ? >> without objection.>> thank you. chairwoman svincki, when staff have confidence in each other, when that trust is broken, where safety cultures develop what states are you taking to ensure positive safety culture? i would like the industry to feel better about the nrc and people within the nrc themselves thank you for that question. these are important indicators as we serve our own staff about their comfort in raising issues with their management or through an open door policy. all members currently adopt an open door policy and have meetings for staff and bring concerns directly to members of our commission.we have instituted agencywide training of having difficult conversations, how do you raise issues? i think we tried to monitor best practices across
corporate america, how do you have the right culture of people feeling very free to speak out and bring issues forward? we monitor and look for best practices and try to bring those lessons and training and culture back to our organization, but we monitor that closely. we would i'm sure what to be the model of having an open and free environment for people to raise concerns. >> thank you. perhaps those in the nrc and it's important we have vigorous government oversight over our nuclear plants plants and the exports are empowered at every level to do it well and i understand if regulations prohibit, nuclear power plants were discharging waters into rivers that exceed a certain temperature threshold. how is climate change impacting nuclear power plants ability to operate with increasing temperature for example, with the nrc seat provision to that regulation and our current regulations impacting
operations of nuclear power plants today? >> my understanding is the upper bound temperature limits you spoke of for dispersing water into other plants output into other bodies of water are set based on a very rigorous safety and environmental analysis. i think that if the climate were warning, our analysis would be the same so we would probably encounter more frequent circumstances of plants needing to reduce their power input on not exceeding that level. so i don't know that we would automatically raise levels. i think you would see cases where plants more frequently needed to down power, as we call it. they would reduce their power output in order to respect the level thank you verymuch, senator inhofe . >> thank you chairman. chairman svincki, i've been doing this for a long time. we've been watching the changes taking place and in fact 23 years ago the first
subcommittee i chaired was this committee, the clean air and nuclear. the mission is a vital one. we want our nuclear plants to be safe and they are safe. for several years we've increased oversight of the nrc's budget and question why the nrc has continued to grow despite a shrinking industry. reactors have announced plans to close. another 20 are at risk of closing prematurely. we've also raised concerns about the nrc's declining productivity. we have achart . in 2000, the nrc accomplished more work with fewer resources as you can see in this chart. the response to the scrutiny is the nrc initiated projects aim 2020 and i'm quoting now, to transform the agency over the next five years to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and agility of the nrc. however, it appears the project deemed 20/20 will end early this coming year.
and while progress has been made, i don't think the nrc has achieved its transformation. >> so chairman, you and i have had discussions about the right sizing of the agency and i know that you've been chairman only for a few months but do you agree there's still room for a lot more improvement in this? >> thank you senator inhofe. the agency has made many efforts under project aim. i know there have been concerns that the project aim is project aim 2020 is terminated early. i would observe that the agency is now, has institutionalized many of the project aim activities and in the need now to develop agency efficiency improvement initiatives for the office of management and budget, i would say that we are now marrying the projects aim effort into the broader kind
of culture at the agency that says where we can find improvements and efficiency and effectiveness, we are doing that. i do not observe that we are necessarily winding down the project aim early. for example, under project aim we began an enhanced workforce planning initiative and it gets your concern about right sizing this enhanced strategic workforce planning intended to improve the fidelity of our resourcing and how many people in what kind of expertise do we need to do the forecasted work that we have. we are piloting now in three of the offices with an agency. that pilot will conclude in july 2018 and then we will be looking at agencywide implementation to again, this is one aspect but it's the human resource and rightsizing aspect but do we improve our understanding of the kind of people and capacity. >> that's good, i appreciate that. this is the big broad question that, i don't have the answer and we've gone
through i can remember many years ago, we were wanting to enhance the position of the department of energy of nuclear. we went through a thing with eight years of the obama administration and his war on fossil fuels., oil and gas you would think that time that he would be wanting to go towards something that didn't have a footprint and that he was trying to avoid. he didn't want nuclear either. now we have a new administration, they have now the end of the war on fossil fuel has ended but we still are not getting where we need to be in nuclear. look at france and all the other countries with the proper place for nuclear energy, we are not getting there. what seems to be the problem in the united states ? i thought maybe when the new administration came in, that
maybe the problem was that we are now depending more on call and gas and their for that reason, they are not advancing in nuclear. what is your thinking, you or any other members here, what are we doing what i believe in what i think everybody, most of the members and certainly all the republicans believe that we should be doing to enhance the position of nuclear in the united states? >> my understanding is of the principal contributors are larger economic and market mechanisms that i know that the department of energy and the federal energy regulatory commission would focus on, but they fall outside the domain of the nuclear regulatory commission but i understand those to be the principal contributors to the lack of deployment of additional nuclear what you think? >> i think the chairman is right. i think that both electricity prices are a significant factor. >>.
>> i would agree with the chairman as well. essentially it's those market forces, low price of natural gas, othertypes of things like that. >> i want to see that red arrow going the other way, thank you mister chairman . >> senator carter. >> welcome to everyone and thanks for your guidance, responses and your service. the chairman mentioned at the beginning of his comments he sent a letter to you asking a number of questions. we had a concern on another front. with the epa not responding to our questions from that side of the aisle and a number of my questions have been supported, why don't we get the information we reserve and i'd like to say that the majority particularly the chairman in this case get the information we need and i would ask all of you, i just would like to have some response as to whether you agree to reaffirm your willingness to be responsive to questions from all of us.
as we go forward. >> yes senator, absolutely. >> yes. >> next so much. i may have one further question that relates to the chairman's letter to you. and this would be i guess maybe for commissioner burns. i believe, for you general counsel of the nrc during the time of uranium one and rsv license reviews taking place? >> if you could refresh me, this was around 2010 . i was the general counsel 2009 until early 2012. >> it's my understanding unlike nuclear reactors, the commission regulates do not prohibit foreign ownership, control of uranium building operations and in fact is not unusual for these to be partially or fully owned by foreign companies and we're talking milling as opposed to
go ahead. >> you don't have the prohibition for production and utilization facilities. however, as with all licensing, you have to reach the inequality of finding, that it's not inevitable, that's an unfortunate word in the statute. inimical to the common defense of security so that is a fine that you have to make in licensing determinations. >> and correct me if i'm wrong but i believe it's the career staff, not the commissioners who make the decisions when it comes to the transfer of the nrc license. a larger amendment to an export license, is that correct? >> that's generally true. there are circumstances to which if you had a contested matter which the commission in its adjudicatory role have to decide would come to but i don't, i'm going to have to refresh myself and as we prepared to answer centers question. i don't think that was the case that there was not a
contested or a adjudicatory decision that came before the commission. >> i just ask you if you find your memory is not as what it used to beeither but if you find that you want to add something for the record , that would be fine. i would ask also, do you believe the nrc staff follow all appropriate regulations and guidance and decisions. and if you want to respond to that now you may or you may respond. >> i will respond for the record but having just seen the letter come in and as i say, i don't have a robust recollection of the particular circumstance at that time. so i appreciate the opportunity to do that. >> let's talk a little bit
about morale. it used to the top of the charts for many years. number one in terms of morale. down to number 11, you were down to 12, maybe you're coming back that direction. number 11 with a bullet as we say in billboard. >> but mission or burns, can you take a minute and tell us about the impacts of the recent budget cuts? do you feel these cuts have impacted morale and can the nrc work institute in a timely manner? >> thank you for the question. i think you're right that the effort and the budget cuts have had an impact on the route and that is primarily because there are few opportunities for promotion, often reduced training, rotational opportunities. we need to make sure that the agency that we retain the tremendous talent that we have. it's a terrific workforce, it's still a great place to work and i'm hopeful one of the things we can do with strategic workforce planning tools is to help the staff better see if they want to get to a certain position in a few years what are the particular skill they would need to work on. the training, rotation opportunities to get
themselves in a position to advance, to move into those positions so you staff a better sense of what are the opportunities and what do they need to do themselves to get themselves in a position to take advantage, will help her out further. we are starting to get the right production but it's a trap challenging time. >> i have more questions. maybe about new reactors a couple other things and we will have another couple rounds to ask questions. thanks for your responses and i will forward to your responses for the record. >> thank you senator carter. senator capito. >> thank you mister chairman. and thank you for being here today. on march 8 which was the same day we had a legislative hearing on the bipartisan nuclear modernization we joined together on, the gao published a report on the nrc budget structure and justification. in my view, it's part of, one of the things i found troubling in the report was
it seems as though the nrc is keeping two sets of books and i quote, one to formulate its budget and another obligates funds based on its appropriations for progress. to put it another way, nrc has budgets in its budget creates public consumption for congress but that operates under a separate budget under its internal operations, making it tough for authorizer's and appropriators which i'm an operator with the authorizer's to discern how the nrc is spending taxpayer dollars so in example, according to the nrc's monthly report, the nrc had 7241 full-time equivalents in september. this past september. the budget justification is four 3405 . so if you caught up multiply, that's about 25 million dollars in extra funding. in other words, ftes that were budgeted for but were not actually filled.
i believe mister baron mentioned the workforce was down 12 percent so i would like to know an explanation of where are these extra dollars that were actually appropriated that were not fulfilled by the fte that was actually working. the nrc and so some fleshing out where that is and does that mean your budget request would be lower because you are able to roll this money over? how does that work. >> thank you question senator and it may be that if we can supplement this answer for the record because there are a lot of moving parts here. it is true that over the course of the last budget year, we were conducting a reduction in force and we were through attrition getting smaller in the areas of fte. the difference in funding i would forecast probably has
shown up as carryover money from one year to the next. if our staffing levels at the end of the year ended up being lower than the requested budget, that would likely materialize as carryover funding into the fiscal 18 current fiscal year and it is a difficult as we develop the agency budgets two years in advance, since we are reducing in employment levels, difficult for us when we submit the budget forecast the exact difference. again, we were under a period of continued decline in staffing levels so probably a little bit under the target and asked staff at the end of the fiscal year. so i think ingeneral , it's a forecasting error but the money likely would show up and carry over. >> when you see carryover, doesn't mean you carry over to the next year and you subtract that from your budget request? >> the upcoming fiscal year?
>> i can check for the turnover of the fiscal year that fall but appropriations clerks will ask us for updated estimates of carryover as we approach the end of the fiscal year. though sometimes appropriators make an adjustment in the end level based on the carryover since we tend to have the connected levels after the start of the fiscal year you know if the nrc treats carryover or extra amounts that you have at the end of the year, is that a fungible line item, does it have to put a nrc, how do you treat? >> not certain if the treatment is consistent. i could take that for the record and provide a response. i would say anecdotally, you are not the only commission or government agency that's falling into this category. i always sort of, you know -- according to the gao it was not a satisfactory way to present the reality of where your budget is and where the
actual spending is. what happens to this extra for carryover amount. i think that's needs to be tracked and needs to be accounted for. any additional information you could give me in written form would be much appreciated. >> i would add that in response to that gao report, i know that appropriations have instituted higher, basically additional control points for the execution of our budget and the monthly report you cite is one of the outgrowths of our monthly reporting to ourconsistency with those budgetary control points . >> i would say in october of 19, you budgeted for 3293. when in actuality it's 3137 so the pattern is still continuing and realizing that it's not, youcan't get down to one or two . but it's significant, the
numbers i think 156. with that i would ask if we could maybe either faced a question or our staff could get with you to get more details on this, thank you. >> you. senator markey. >> commissioner baron, right now the united states has re-signed negotiations on nuclear cooperation. both during the campaign in terms if it turns out and after becoming trump national security adviser, general flynn was seeking to begin that process. so far the administration has , meets the requirements to keep congress fully informed of any issues and negotiations related to a new and amended agreement as required by the atomic energy.
energy secretary perry is in saudi arabia to discuss their beds, to build new nuclear reactors and it is reported these deals may allow for enrichment of uranium which all previous us agreements have prohibited. the nrc has oversight responsibility over the export of nuclear source materials and technology. at has the nrc been consulted on the export of the potentially sensitive nuclear technology?>> as part of the 123agreement process, you mentioned had a role , it comes later in the process when there are certain statutory findings, the commission must make in order for one to three agreement recommendations to go to the president. we are at that stage yet. >> if the agreement does allow for the enrichment of uranium or plutonium, could that cause or pose a proliferation and safety risk? >> it's challenging to answer
that question without having any sense of what's actually agreed to.>> let me ask you another way. does the country need to be able to enrich or reprocessed to have a civilian nuclear power program or can they bring the uranium? >> yes, that's not necessary. >> thank you. the nuclear regulatory commission staff granted nuclear power stations and exemption from the requirement that a seismic risk assessment be performed. this is a great concern since pilgrim saw a bigger increase in seismic risk during its post fukushima evaluation that any other nuclear power plant. it has a seismic hazard and is significantly higher than the plants was designed to withstand. seismic assessments are very important. these are used to evaluate the nuclear sites, arms from earthquakes and can be used
to determine what improvements and changes need to be made to protect the site and surrounding communities from disaster. commissioner baron, allow the staff decided to go rent is not required to do this assessment, you think that station could voluntarily perform a seismic analysis? >> this was as you mentioned a staff position. staff in this case made the wrong decision given the particular set of circumstances that pilgrim i think nrc should have required the detailed site risk assessments that would've been completed by the end of the year and i leave it to you, i think that's what the nrc should be taking. since 2015 pilgrim has been assessed as having multiple operational safety violations. the nrc is undertaking rulemaking to govern the decommissioning of plants. as pilgrim moves toward its decommissioning in 2019, is there any insight you can provide how that rulemaking will take operational and physical safety into account. >> .
>> with regard to children, it may be that rulemaking is after pilgrim has already shut down so it may not be directly applicable to children. depending on what the timing is. the staff may need to complete a rulemaking package for draft final rules for review by the end of 2019. but i think it's as i mentioned, in our opening remarks, it is going to be a very good move to move away from this exemption, the regulation by exemption approach that we have going on. it makes sense to have like as we do for operating plants, a detailed list of regulatory requirements , safety and security is applied to a decommissioning plan. we don't have that right now. this rulemaking would accomplish that and ithink . >> i think it's imperative that the new rules on decommissioning simplify operational and physical safety long after these
plants stop generating electricity. and i might say about the state of this industry, obviously westinghouse went bankrupt. while trying to complete the global plant. and that's not because of any attempts by granola chopping, tree hugging liberal to stop the construction of that plant, that had nothing to do with it. and it had to do with the very fact that it's very hard and very expensive to build a nuclear power plant that are safe and that are under tremendous pressure obviously from the wind and solar industry which is why this is an attempt by the fans of all these alternative energy generating systems to take away the benefits of all those competing systems and of energy. and i must just say in response to the gentleman oklahoma when he talked about a war, the obama administration on call and gas and oil, that there was a dramatic, historic rise in
oil and natural gas production during the obama administration. rise, dramatic rise and amongst other things, that dropping the price of natural gas is why that lead you along with this. >> very difficult economic conditions within which the nuclear power industry is trying to survive. >> thank you senator. senator fisher.>> thank you mister chairman. chair, as i understand it, wyoming will likely become an nrc agreement state in 2018. as a result, the state of wyoming will begin regulating its uranium recovery facilities in place of the nrc to do that. seven of the nine uranium recovery facilities have paid fees to the nrc in 2017 are located in wyoming. the other two are located in
south dakota and my home state of nebraska. the nrc determines its uranium recovery annual fees by dividing by the number of facilities. how will the nrc maintain the uranium recovery office to ensure the two remaining licensees are unfairly burdened with an extreme increase in those regulatory costs? >> that you senator for this question and although our commission has not grappled with it, i've been monitoring the potential impact that agreement state status for wyoming would have in the financial structure of how we recover costs and so i will speak for myself and not for my colleagues but this is a management challenge and i appreciate that you raised it. already are director of chief financial officer are looking at this question.i think that there will be with wyoming taking a significant number of the entities now paying fees for uranium
recovery regulation, this will be a change for us so this is not a small change. this will be something we are going to have to look at the structure of how we are recovering these costs but i would like to maybe provide a fuller answer to you for the record on where the chief financial officer examination or of the constant resides again, it's a definite issue. but i'm confident that we are forcing it looking at now. >> i would appreciate your responding for the record. so it would be helpful and i would also appreciate it if you could keep our office informed on the progress that you're making on that before you announce any decisions publicly so that we would be able to have some input and also review it with you. >> also man chair, this committee has passed the gao with reviewing the nrc cost estimating practices in the weight of concerns that the nrc significantly underestimated the cost of implementing its filtered
events proposal. in december 2014 the gao released a report that was fairly critical of the nrc development of cost estimates , stating the nrc procedures quote, do not adequately support the creation of reliable cost estimates and that the field events cost estimate did not fully or substantially meet any of the four characteristics of a reliable process . the gao recommended that the nrc alignments cost estimating procedures with relevant cost estimating, best practices. identified in the report. however, the nrc staff rejected that advice state", the nrc does not believe however that the standards used by gao to assess our program are appropriate. more recently for all 10 monthly reports to this committee, the nrc has stated the staff has not yet taken
any action to developspecific metrics for assessing the quality of its cost-benefit analysis . so to summarize, three years have passed. the nrc staff rejects gao's advice and there are no metrics in place to assess the quality of the nrc's cost-benefit analysis. so my question would be what basis does the nrc have for assessing whether the cost benefit analysis used by the commission for decision-making are in fact reliable. >> thank you for that question. our commission recently requested that the staff reminded update to us on the response to the ceo recommendations. and i don't dispute your description of the intervening time period but we have now been informed by the agency staff that they are, the staff is updating the cost-benefit guidance documents and among the
changes that are being incorporated, they include recommendations from the gao's money 14 report finding including the agency of the relevant cost estimating best practices identified in the gao's 2009 died or authoritative investment that the gao referred to so this is the staff, the communication to the commission of their correct activities underway. so we will look forward to updating you and i don't have a date here from when that would be published. i think it's 2018 but we can provide the answer for the record. >> i have a couple other questions i like to submit for the record. >> you're welcome. when the senator was referring to tree hugging and granola hunting, that apply to anyone in this committee but with that, let me recognize senator white house. >> mister chairman, i was at that remark. i represent that remark.
[laughter] welcome all, thank you for your work. i would like to focus a little bit with you all on the question of advanced reactor licensing. as you know, i've been persistent about trying to open the possibility of next-generation advanced nuclear technology with the ultimate holy grail as possible of finding nuclear technology that allow us to go through our nuclear waste stockpile and try to turn that into valuable energy rather than leave it lying out there as a massive public health and financial liability. the bill that i have authored and cosponsored is a bill in process. we have support that's bipartisan but in the meantime you all received an additional $5 million appropriation for advanced
reactor licensing. i wanted to get your sense on how far that $5 million takes you. does that take you one percent of the way to where you need to be, two percent or can you wrap your head and say job done, we are all set with that money. let me put it another way. you're not supposed to ask for more money so if you continue to get additional $5 billion year after year, what frame does that put you on for achieving your goal with respect to advanced reactor licensing? i know you are responding to all our concerns about this by doing things administratively but fill me in on what's happening administratively and what the $5 million doesfor you in the context you are trying to achieve . >> for that question and i'll start in my colleagues can remember the point i'm not going to remember but the most important use for that
$5 million is making sure that nrc is engaged and part of dialogue that is going on between the department of energy, the designers of these new designs, the national laboratory and having the regulator in the room i think is important so what we've done is what we are bringing to that engagement is we've created a strategy document and a series of implementation plans and those are focused towards nrc developing the regulatory capacity and some of that is knowing different fuel cycles, knowing different material types, what kind of capacity and expertise do we need to bring in an informed way to the engagement as the community of designers of these advanced reactors what was forward. it's important nrc experts be present with the department of energy and laboratory experts because what i've learned is that researchers
at national labs are drawn upon the earliest experiences of the atomic history of the united states because some of the reactor designs are really not entirely new. they are designed so that this country did examine experimental work on in the 1960s and 70s. >> $5 million generally being used on outreach and connection with other facilities and. >> and seeing that these implementation plans allow us to look at what doe is doing, what the labs are bringing to the table but vendors are identifying as the gap and need for information that they have and we are able to, or implementation plans are iterated so based on the engagement, we don't want to have to total gap in our expertise in regulatory capacity where we just have to throw up our hands and say you don't know anything about that type of material so we're never going to be able to improve its use in a nuclear reactor. so i think that going forward,it's , we get to taking that framework and applying it to specific technical issues.
from a budgetary standpoint, i think that's where it gets more expensive because then the last need to be doing things, we need to be weighing in on their testing plans and their data plans and say if you collect this data, will it be sufficient for us to make a determination. i think the framework is essential and we spent $5 million on that butin response to your question . >> let me ask if the other two commissioners would make, if there's anything, if you could make a joint statement that you all agree on in terms of response to this question for the record, if you would like to add additional thoughts of your own, i would like you to respond in writing to the question. in my last moments, i just want to say again, that to me, it is very disappointing and discouraging to see safe and safely operating nuclear plants that produce carbon free power that have to close
down in order to build and run new carbon pollution generating plants simply because of the market failure of having any value to the carbon free nature of nuclear power. i know that's been resolved of it at the state level and i hope that i can continue to work with colleagues to try to get something done again to our carbon capture utilization storage bill to encourage the continued safely operating nuclear fleet, not to have to be artificially shut down at a time when we could certainly use both the electricity, jobs in both locations and the carbon free nature of that power. >> 90 senator. senator carper. >> he's still here in the room munching on a granola bar. i just want to say i approve this message. thank you. >> i want to come back to something that senator white
house was raving maybe in a little different way. several years ago, i commiserated with our members of our staff to france. with respect to efforts to recycle, we processed spent fuel and to see what lessons there were for us. and i know additional work has been done in france but also in this country and if you could talk about that a little bit. i'm looking forward with a real respect to what we need to be doing here in this side of the aisle. >> we will ask about other members to join you. >> on the issue of recycling or reprocessing, early in my service on the commission i think in 2009, the agency received some expressions of interest from potential developers of the reprocessing capability in the united states. i would say in the last number of years since then,
we as a regulator, we've not heard any expressions of anyone interested in developing. in 2009 we were asked by the potential industry developer, could we update our old regulations on reprocessing and recycling and before we even undertook that effort, i think the business interest in doing it diminished but under other than that it's a process for us as a regulator. >> other members please? >> i would echo the chairman's remarks. or three years i've on the commission, it's not something i've heard anyone propose to move in that direction. which may be a reflection of low uranium prices. >> commissioner rice. >> i agree with my colleague. >> you can't go on any other countries in this regardwhere they have a fair amount of nuclear , >>. >> i think for the countries that do engage in
reprocessing, it's a fairly stable process that they've developed and i'm not aware of them proposing any dramatic changes to it. it's pretty stable and i think the basic process was developed in the 1970s and i think it's stayed essentially the same. >> i'm turning if we could to focus. lessons learned from fukushima and we've learned from that tragedy, and have taken actions here in our country with our own nuclear plants. how are we doing in that regard? >> the implementation of the nrc's post fukushima regulatory actions have effectively been a accomplished. there are some as was made mention to seismic hazard analysis upgrades and the institutionalization for routine looking at updating
of the safety assessments for the natural hazards for the facility. some of the post fukushima actions we take and will have an enduring footprint at the operating facilities across the country because they require a very consistent focus on being prepared for these very extreme natural events. another element as an observer of the evidence at fukushima and what countries have gone around the world as they learned lessons from that, there's been a strong emphasis on the fact that there are human people that are responsible. you can have the best set of procedures in response and you can have exquisite equipment available but if the individual responders at the plant will need to be able to carry that out and i've seen it a consistent focus on that from the us industry and also on us nrc to make sure training and procedures and exercises, that that's going to be the essential element to the
resiliency going forward . >> commissioner burns, would you like to add to that please? >> there's certainly been a lot of progress on the ground in terms of equipment to address certain accidents in this area. i traveled to plants across the country and if you go to a plant you will see a dome or some other structure old with equipment. that could be used at any generator, pumps and hoses and it would be useful everyone agrees in the event of an accident scenario. that's all new equipment since fukushima. that's concrete manifestation . instrumentation levels, that was something that wasn't required and is now at every plant in the country. the long bowl intent has been severe accident capable events where certain boiling water mark two, those are going to be completed in 2018 2019 timeframe and the only thing i find outstanding are some of these evaluations
which are in some cases multi-year efforts. >> commissioner burns. >> i would add that in many respects, what the industry was built on and what has built on from the requirements that it imposed after fukushima has similar origins in our thinking after 9/11 in terms of how the ability to withstand large explosions and things like that. there was a baseline due to the requirements that the agency had adopted after 9/11 that really built on the fukushima era. the other thing is i have the opportunity to go to a number of nuclear power plants outside the united states and for the most part, our i think our approach is very similar. and in what's going on in other countries is similar to what we've been doing in terms of directing the type of way to basically prepare
for the unexpected, thebeyond diet design basic accident. worldwide i think we are pretty much on the same page . >> when you look at the difficulties that we've encountered, they been encountered in southcarolina, georgia in construction of new facilities. i understand your , they are still under construction and the work has stopped. any idea whether or not some of the lessons learned from fukushima added to the cost of these projects in a way that sort of went to the slowdown and in one case stoppage? >> i don't have any rigorous analysis of that but i can, i would be very, very surprised if that played a role. that doesn't logically follow to me because the types of actions post fukushima are
all something that are well contemplated by the new plan and i don't think in terms of an increment of additional expense, they would not be significant. not significant enough to cause plant cancellation. >> to be our other two commissioners agree with that? >> i agree, i don't thinkthat was the result . >> i would agree and partly i think as the chairman alluded to the acid designs, that's been the effect. the generation 3+, that's the advantage of the 81,000. those passive designs from an account for some of those aspects. >>. >> is the largest factor the that led to the decision not to go forward with the south carolina project? >> frankly, the decisions around the country to close or market closure. a number of nuclear plants that have more to do with the regular cost of natural gas,
is that a factor? >> i know that the south carolina public utilities commission and state legislature is conducting a series of hearings and i suspect that when all the analysis is done there will be multiple contributors to why the project was abandoned. i think some of them will revolve around project management aspects, others will be perhaps the westinghouse bankruptcy as a complicating factor and others. but i suspect there will be multiple contributors by of why the project did not go through to completion and i know the state is looking closely at. >> anything? >> i don't know that i have anything to add to that other than i think the plant, i think that's a factor in terms obviously that utilities are looking at. if a half by license to build a new plant, what are the hotel or utility prices, are
the efficient and is a key factor? >> our colleagues from georgia have been supportive of including in tax reform legislation a provision dealing with a section of the code: 40 5j.that is actually an investment tax credit provision. are you familiar with that, you have any use on that? >>. >> i am certainly not an expert but i have read this same comments from the constructors of the vocal units. not the continuation or extension of certain favorable tax treatment is an underlying part of their business case for completing the mobile unit but i don't haveseparate expertise. i just read the bible constructors of the plant . >> the last thing i would ask, i'd like to ask people
married a long time, what's the secret to being married a long time. i asked people how many years, one of my favorite answers is the three c's, communication and compromise and we've added two more. civility and collaboration. and i think that's not just a prolonged union between two people. it's also the secret for a vibrant democracy and effective leadership. >> .. and there was a time when the commission we struggle at working together. i would just ask for the three of you how are we doing with respect to communicate,
collaboration, how are you doing? how're you doing? >> again, i feel very privileged to serve with the two gentlemen who were are here with me. we always welcome new colleagues and i served with a think i've had for chairman and a lot of different colleagues during my nearly ten years on our commission but again, chairman burns, with commissioner burns is so gracious and assist them in taking over the chairmanship, and i'm just very grateful. i continue to consult with him on matters and say how did you handle this as chairman. i would say we're doing very well and it's because i think the secret to getting along his respect. it is a mean agree on everything. >> how do you spell that? >> i think that something send a worth mention our own safety culture and the willingness to raise concerns. part of the training of having difficult conversations with colleagues or with your boss, it is that respect element is some
of what we emphasize there. i think we try a model that >> did the letter say that? >> absolutely. and having just reached my 40th wedding anniversary this year i agree with your characterization what's successful. i'm sure my wife will, too. >> i agree with my colleagues. the three of us work very well together and we don't always agree on policy matters and that's fine. at the idea behind the commission to get people with different views, jeff and expenses. sometimes agree come sometimes it all. we try to persuade each other. would always extent if we can't persuade each other we often find common ground and compromised with a lot of decisions, i think it's worked well and i'm very happy with the colleagues i have. >> good, thanks. mr. chairman, i i know i said n had one -- can ask with respect to cyber attacks? >> please do. >> earlier this year there were reports of possible cyber
attacks on some of our nuclear reactors as you know. i would like to ask for a moment how is coronation going with the other federal agencies, a number of them including key part of homeland security, but how is that coordination . as we help defend our reactors from these kinds of attacks in the future? >> our commission of the nuclear regulatory commission at our direct commission involvement i think hasn't really strong track record in the entirety of my service on the commission, we conduct twice a year meetings will be go into the appropriate setting with representative sampling of the interagency, our federal partners who monitor these events very, very closely. i'm not aware that other commissions have that as a routine practice. it allows us to direct from intelligence analysts from throughout the government and as a result our conference in our regulatory response to cybersecurity is raised because
we monitor this very frequently and very directly. not that we don't have her own experts and there in the room but i think to invite interagency partners to come and sit with us as political appointees is very important. i'm very proud we do that. >> good. gentleman? >> i agree. >> i i agree. it's been very useful and i think it helps our thinking and our preparation as well as for our staff. it's something that's not going to go away and we need to continue to be vigilant about. >> mr. chairman, do you all having advice for us to enable you to do your jobs better? just a couple words? a lot of, asking people say more oversight. which is interesting. any advice for us?
>> i do think that the consistent engagement that you have with our commission as a committee, and then the staffs the support you and the work that you do. it allows the committee staff i think because of the consistency of your interest, they are able to have the time to develop the knowledge and expertise on our issues as an agency. i think the really benefit us because i know that senders and as a result their staffs are pulled in many different directions on any given day, but i think the opportunity for your staff to work with us more directly and develop the kind of long-term observation of our agencies achievement and progress and challenges, i think is a helpful back-and-forth engagement that we have. >> general men? >> i agree. i appreciate we've had comp my time in the commission issue with that so many constructive hearings will they go through both management issues but also more policy focus issues.
i found it be very constructive and very useful, and it sounds hokey but that oversight is important and we appreciate it. as someone who work for the house of representatives, doing oversight work is extremely valuable. >> commissioner burns. >> i i agree, and i think as the chairman of the two, these are issues, even for us as commissioners and who are sort of in day-to-day work, they are not easy issues so that engagement with the staff as well as engagement with you directly i think helps us all understand challenges we have in the current -- how we can work through them. >> thank you all very much. >> two final questions and then we will conclude this. chairman svinicki, the director of omb had a memorandum sent out to the heads of department of agencies in july this past year and in the memorandum he
provided guidance for the development of the fiscal year 2019 budget. he specifically highlighted how recent the fiscal year 2019 budget process will give special consideration he said to bold reform for reorganization proposals that have potential to dramatically improve effectiveness and efficiency of government operations. is the nar sequencing any proposals that might combine with what is recommended in his guidance? >> so of course our engagement with omb does advance the president's budget rollout in february of next year. there are of course sensitivities, but as a general matter we've been engaging with omb and the development of our fiscal 19 budget, and element as you mention are these reform initiatives and proposals. we've engaged our examiners. he is come back and asked us additional questions we've been in the process of developing our agency proposes to accompany the presidents fiscal '19 budget. that engagement has been going
on understand there may be some additional feedback that we receive in the coming months prior to the budget rollout. and when we appear before the committee next year in support of our budget we can speak of the specific at that time. >> the final questions you, i would call on the inner city consider implementing this flat structure for reaching iranian recovery. today the undersea is taken multiple used to establish a pilot program for second with only 11 licensees. i am concerned nrc is taking too long to get the program up and running. the agreement states like texas, utah they have flat fees in place. for routine uranium recovery licensing actions. can you talk about what the cause of the delay and why the nrc can't use programs that are already put in place like texas and utah, maybe templates for your own program? >> i agree, chairman, that it does seem like a prolonged time. but i have come to understand from the nrc staff a couple of things that persuaded me.
the first is that uranium recovery is a pilot or flat fee. think the agency is intrigued about the potential use of flat fees beyond uranium recovery and other areas. as a result the nrc staff really wants the pilot to be successful. in order for it to be successful they need to develop a flat fee estimates with a certain level of fidelity. the best way i could describe this and the staff hasn't cracked to be some hope i'm right about this is, we know what recent uranium recovery fees have been but we don't have a good understanding of what you are treated if one cost x nine dollars and another costs y. what is the one was higher had a lot of complexity? it's not going to be an equitable are realistic flat the estimate. i know it seems like a a very prolonged time, and with the parallel development of wyoming's agreement state agreement, it may be this pilot, maybe this wasn't the best area
to pilot given other events. i think the agency is very committed to exploring flat fees in a way because we think they have promise for other types of licenses as well. at our commitment is to doing a pilot that would demonstrate that and doesn't just fail maybe for reasons that we didn't prepare it properly. >> well, members may spend additional questions as you know for the record. a remarkable remain open for two weeks to what you think the witnesses for your time and testimony today. the hearing is adjourned. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
>> coming up on c-span2, a look at fuel efficiency standards for cars with representatives of the auto industry and an environmental advocacy group. later, california attorney general xavier becerra on lawsuit is filed against the trump administration. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable-television companies and is brought you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> tonight on c-span2, booktv in prime time with interviews with a number of nonfiction authors.
just for 2018 "in depth" is changing course. we've invited 12 fiction authors onto our set. authors of historical fiction, national security thrillers, science writers, social commentators like colson whitehead and brad meltzer, geraldine brooks and many others. their books have been read by millions around the country and around the world. so if you are a reader who plan to join us for "in depth" on booktv. it's an interactive program the first sunday of every month and let you calling and talk directly to your favorite authors. it all kicks off on sunday january 7 at noon with david ignatius, a "washington post" columnist, and the author of ten national security thrillers. you can join us live on sunday january 7 or watch it on demand booktv.org.
>> the second session of the 115th congress starts next week. the senate is back on january 3 and will welcome to new democratic
lawmakers, alabama's doug jones, and minnesota's tina smith. the house of representatives returns a few days later on january 8. in the new year congress needs to consider our government spending bill because current government funding runs out january 19. 19th. also on the calendar, this year's state of the union address. house speaker paul ryan has invited president trump to address a joint session of congress on january 30. when congress is back in session the senate is live here on c-span2, and the house is live on our companion network c-span. >> to house energy and commerce subcommittees held a joint hearing recently to look at idle fuel