President Barack Obama is nominating Allison Macfarlane, a professor and member of panel studying disposal of atomic wastes, to be head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, replacing Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who is quitting.
Macfarlane, an associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, received a doctorate in geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Macfarlane “is a highly regarded expert who was a member of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, and has spent years analyzing nuclear issues while at George Mason University, Harvard University as well as at MIT,” White House spokesman Clark Stevens said in an e-mail.
Jaczko, 41, announced May 21 that he intends to resign as soon as a successor is confirmed. His term expires in June 2013.
Republicans in Congress have been pushing for a swift departure of Jaczko, who has been criticized by colleagues for his agency management and alleged mistreatment of NRC employees. Jaczko denies the allegations.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who employed Jackzo as a science adviser, said in a statement that Macfarlane “will make preserving the safety and security of American citizens her top priority.”
Reid said the nominations of Macfarlane and Republican Commissioner Kristine Svinicki, whose term ends June 30, should advance through the confirmation process together.
The Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents power generators, issued a statement congratulating Macfarlane and urging the Senate and White House to expedite the nomination and confirmation process.
Macfarlane “has been an active contributor to policy debates in the nuclear energy field for many years,” NEI President Marvin Fertel said in an e-mail statement. “The NRC must continue to be an effective, credible regulator if the nation is to maximize nuclear energy’s role in achieving America’s economic growth and energy security.”
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