Opening Statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper: “Oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a legislative hearing, “Oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery.


“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding today’s hearing to continue our oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and to hear more about the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020. I also want to thank Chairman Svinicki and Commissioners Baran, Caputo and Wright for coming before our committee this morning.


“The United States has one of the safest nuclear industries in the world, and that’s in large part because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to be the world’s gold standard for nuclear regulatory agencies.


“This morning, I hope to discuss whether the president’s budget proposal would provide NRC with all of the resources and tools it needs to keep our country’s nuclear power the safest in the world. I also hope we will discuss the investments and advances that need to be made to ensure that nuclear power remains a safe and viable way to power our country while promoting cleaner air and stronger public health.


“As many of you know, I believe in the power of safe nuclear energy, because I believe it is an effective tool in our arsenal to combat the growing threat of climate change. As the global temperatures warm, ice caps melt and sea levels rise, our nation’s leading scientists have warned us repeatedly that if we fail to start seriously reducing carbon emissions now, by the end of the century, we will face catastrophic consequences.


“Meanwhile, across the country, we now have 96 operating nuclear reactors that are running more efficiently than ever before. These reactors are producing clean, carbon-free electricity. In fact, 50 percent of all of the world’s carbon-free electricity comes from nuclear power.


“As we face down the climate crisis, we would be remiss to dismiss the opportunity that comes with advanced nuclear power, a clean and carbon-free form of energy. By replacing older nuclear technology with new technology developed right here at home—technology that is safer, produces less spent fuel and costs less to build and operate—we can reap the economic benefits of a new, advanced nuclear generation, while doing right by our planet.”

“In order to do that, however, we need to make sure that the NRC has the resources it needs to review these new technologies and keep our current nuclear reactor fleet safe. I hope we will discuss that today.

“If we want the U.S. nuclear industry to have a successful future, we need to invest in its future—and that means also investing in its workforce. Any organization needs a strong and dedicated workforce to be successful, and the NRC is no exception.


“As we talk about the next generation of nuclear technologies, we need to be thinking about the next generation of nuclear engineers. We need to ensure that the NRC has adequate funding to continue to attract the best and brightest talent. Instead, the Trump Administration has proposed to, yet again, eliminate the Integrated University Program.


“There is still hope for this carbon-free technology, but we have to understand that the decisions we make today will affect the industry for generations to come. I look forward to discussing how the president’s budget will affect the decisions NRC makes today and, ultimately, the future of nuclear power for years to come.”