Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Nuclear Safety, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, convened the joint hearing, "Oversight Hearing: NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety."

A copy of Sen. Carper's opening statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

“Thank you Senator Boxer for rescheduling this very important hearing.  I want to welcome back our witnesses. 

“My colleagues have often heard me say – and it bears repeating – that I believe the NRC plays a critical role in protecting the public and the environment, and impacting our energy security.  It is with that in mind that we must continue to have nuclear power in the mix of our energy sources and part of our “all of the above” approach to our nation’s energy policy.

“I mention that again today because sometimes here in Congress, we lose sight of the importance of good governance – we lose sight of the important work our federal workforce does day-in and day-out. When Congress decides not to do our basic job – like providing funding certainty for the federal government – federal agencies like the NRC have a real difficulty doing their job.  And I would say the NRC’s job is one of the most important in the country.   

“But, as many of you know, I always try to find the silver lining in every situation – and the government shutdown is no exception. Despite the extreme obstacles Congress put before the NRC this October during the government shutdown, the Commission and employees at the NRC rose to the challenge and found ways to ensure our nuclear facilities remain safe in this country. I hope we never have to go through that again, but I would like to commend the leadership of this Commission and the NRC workforce for their outstanding efforts during this trying time.

“Since October, Congress has passed a budget and a spending bill that sees us through the near future.  These accomplishments are stepping stones toward a functioning government and away from a model of governance that has us jumping from one crisis to the next. Finally Congress is doing its job – and when we do our job, the NRC can fully do its job.  And right now, the NRC has a lot on its plate.

“Not only is the NRC ensuring our existing reactors continue to run safely, but the Commission is implementing lessons learned from Fukushima at all our reactors;  overseeing the construction of the first new reactors in 30 years; and trying to help our reactors grapple with their nuclear waste as we continue to debate our national nuclear waste policy. All the while, our nuclear reactors are facing economic and climate challenges that we’ve not seen before – putting additional challenges on the nuclear industry. 

“Today is an opportunity to check-in and see how the NRC is doing and how they are handling these challenges. I look forward to today’s dialogue with the Commission and my colleagues.

“One final word, despite where my colleagues may sit on this dais and where we are on the issue of nuclear power, I believe all of us want a safe nuclear fleet.  I also believe that is true of the commissioners that are here before us.  Sometimes we disagree on how to get there, but at the end of the day, we all share the same goal. And because nuclear power can be a very sensitive and often a very technical issue – I have found that many of our disagreements are caused not by differing views, but because of a lack-of or break-down in communication.

“That’s why I encourage my colleagues and this Commission to continue to find ways to communicate better with each other and with the public. As I have said before, I believe our nuclear power plants are some of the safest in the world and look forward to working with the Commission, my colleagues and the nuclear industry to ensure that we reap the benefits of nuclear power by ensuring that safety continues to be our number one priority.”