Chairman Carper’s Opening Statement: Hearing on NRC Nominations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday June 8, 2022, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to consider the nominations of Annie Caputo and Brad Crowell to be Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“We are here today to consider two important nominations to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — Annie Caputo and Bradley Crowell. Let me start by welcoming each of them, as well as Senator Cortez Masto, before our Committee. We look forward to hearing their testimony.

“Before we do though, let me say a few words about each nominee, as well as about the important role a well-functioning NRC has in ensuring we continue to safely and reliably power our nation into the future.

“As a nation and a planet, we are at a critical point when it comes to reducing our addiction to fossil fuels. Just last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that Earth’s atmosphere surpassed another historic, alarming milestone. The carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is now more than 50 percent higher than in pre-industrial times — a level not seen in millions of years. Yes, that’s millions with an ‘m.’ We should find these figures alarming, especially as scientists continue to warn of the future that awaits us if we fail to act.

“The good news? The technology required to transition our economy towards a clean energy future already exists. That includes nuclear power, which currently provides over half of all carbon-free energy in the United States.

“In addition to being our largest source of reliable, clean energy, nuclear energy also generates economic opportunities across our country. As I said during our oversight hearing in December with Chairman Hanson, Commissioner Baran, and Commissioner Wright, nuclear energy is key to reaching our climate goals economywide. The NRC is critical to ensuring that our nuclear energy is both safe and reliable.

“For the NRC to effectively maintain the safety of our nation’s nuclear facilities and also prepare for the future, we must ensure that the agency has the resources that it needs. That includes having the right leadership in place. Currently, two of the five seats on the Commission are vacant.

“Fortunately, in Annie Caputo and Brad Crowell, President Biden has nominated two well-qualified individuals to serve on the NRC. From my conversations with each nominee, I believe they both possess the knowledge and experience to successfully and faithfully serve the American people in these roles.

“Ms. Caputo and Mr. Crowell have strong professional backgrounds. Both of them have worked for members of this Committee who are passionately engaged on nuclear issues. Importantly, both of them have also demonstrated an ability to work collaboratively with members of both parties and with a wide range of stakeholders to achieve progress and get results.

“Ms. Caputo recently served as an NRC Commissioner for a three-year term that expired in June of last year. Since that time, Ms. Caputo served as a professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, and she has consulted with the Idaho National Laboratory regarding international collaboration on advanced nuclear reactors.

“Prior to her term at the NRC, Ms. Caputo served as a professional staff member and senior policy advisor for this Committee under the leadership of former-Chairmen Inhofe and Barrasso. With the wide array of issues before the Commission, I believe that the NRC will benefit from Ms. Caputo’s broad knowledge and expertise.

“Mr. Crowell, meanwhile, has over twenty years of experience at the state and federal levels of government working on clean energy and nuclear power. He served as the Director of Nevada’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources under both Republican and Democratic governors. His experience also includes time at the Department of Energy handling congressional affairs during the Obama Administration and serving as a policy advisor for Senator Whitehouse on our Committee.

“Mr. Crowell understands the importance of engagement among the federal government and states, tribal and local governments, and the public — a key part of effectively communicating the benefits of nuclear energy to those who might otherwise be skeptical.

“As I mentioned, a full slate of commissioners will help the NRC carry out its responsibilities more effectively and efficiently. That is why I hope to work with our Ranking Member, Senator Capito, to move both nominees through the confirmation process together and do so expeditiously.”