[Senate Hearing 113-709] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office] S. Hrg. 113-709 HEARING ON THE RE-NOMINATION OF ALLISON MACFARLANE TO BE A MEMBER OF THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION ======================================================================= HEARING before the COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS UNITED STATES SENATE ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION __________ MAY 23, 2013 __________ Printed for the use of the Committee on Environment and Public Works [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT] Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys __________ U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE 93-394 PDF WASHINGTON : 2015 _________________________________________________________________________________ For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Publishing Office, Internet:bookstore.gpo.gov. Phone:toll free (866)512-1800;DC area (202)512-1800 Fax:(202) 512-2104 Mail:Stop IDCC,Washington,DC 20402-001 COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION BARBARA BOXER, California, Chairman MAX BAUCUS, Montana DAVID VITTER, Louisiana THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland JEFF SESSIONS, Alabama BERNARD SANDERS, Vermont MIKE CRAPO, Idaho SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, Rhode Island ROGER WICKER, Mississippi TOM UDALL, New Mexico JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas JEFF MERKLEY, Oregon DEB FISCHER, Nebraska KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, New York Bettina Poirier, Majority Staff Director Zak Baig, Republican Staff Director C O N T E N T S ---------- Page MAY 23, 2013 OPENING STATEMENTS Cardin, Hon. Benjamin L., U.S. Senator from the State of Maryland 2 Vitter, Hon. David, U.S. Senator from the State of Louisiana..... 3 Boxer, Hon. Barbara, U.S. Senator from the State of California... 4 Inhofe, Hon. James M., U.S. Senator from the State of Oklahoma... 5 Carper, Hon. Thomas R., U.S. Senator from the State of Delaware.. 7 Sessions, Hon. Jeff, U.S. Senator from the State of Alabama...... 7 Sanders, Hon. Bernard, U.S. Senator from the State of Vermont.... 8 Fischer, Hon. Deb, U.S. Senator from the State of Nebraska....... 10 Barrasso, Hon. John, U.S. Senator from the State of Wyoming...... 10 Lautenberg, Hon. Frank R., U.S. Senator from the State of New Jersey, prepared statement..................................... 103 Gillibrand, Hon. Kirsten, U.S. Senator from the State of New York, prepared statement....................................... 103 WITNESS Macfarlane, Hon. Allison, Chairman, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission..................................................... 15 Prepared statement........................................... 17 Responses to additional questions from Senator Lautenberg.... 20 Response to an additional question from Senator Cardin....... 23 Responses to additional questions from: Senator Sanders.......................................... 25 Senator Vitter........................................... 28 Senator Inhofe........................................... 65 Senator Barrasso......................................... 67 Senator Barrasso with Senator Fischer.................... 68 Senator Sessions......................................... 71 Response to an additional question from: Senator Crapo............................................ 88 Senator Wicker........................................... 89 Responses to additional questions from Senator Fischer....... 90 HEARING ON THE RE-NOMINATION OF ALLISON MACFARLANE TO BE A MEMBER OF THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION ---------- THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2013 U.S. Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works, Washington, DC. The full committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9 a.m. in room 406, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Barbara Boxer (chairman of the full committee) presiding. Present: Senators Boxer, Vitter, Carper, Cardin, Sanders, Gillibrand, Inhofe, Sessions, Fischer, Barrasso, and Boozman. Senator Boxer. Good morning. There is a vote at 10:30 and we want to make sure everyone gets their questions. Before we start this, I wanted to respond publicly to the bill that has been agreed to by Senators Lautenberg and Vitter dealing with TSCA. I intend to handle it the same way I handle all of our other big bills which is everyone is going to have a chance to look at it, see how it impacts their State, see how it impacts their folks. But it is wonderful the two colleagues came together. So, we will get all of the copies of their legislation to every member of this Committee for your advice and then we will do a Chairman's mark based on everybody's input. I really want to say thank you. And I know is means so much to Senator Lautenberg to have a chance to have this. Senator Vitter. Senator Vitter. Thank you, Madam Chair. Thanks for a fair and open process. That is all we ask for. We of course want this bill with a lot of bipartisan co-sponsors to be the base but we invite discussion, amendment discussion. We will go from there. And I think it is really, really exciting that so many folks from both sides have come together. This Committee often comes together on infrastructure issues. Senator Boxer. That is right. Senator Vitter. Here, we are coming together on an EPA- related issue and doing something that is very important for health and safety and to make sure we continue to lead the world in innovation, a big part of our economy. So, we are very excited about it. Thank you. Senator Boxer. Well, that is excellent. I look forward to reading it. I have not. I have read remarks pro and con. But I am excited that you have gotten it to this point, Senator, and we will do what we do on every big bill. We will all work together because this Committee has to vote this up or down. So I want to make sure we get it out of this Committee. So, we will work together. With that, I want to call on Senator Cardin who is going to introduce our witness, make his statement, then he has a hearing to go to. So, I will call on him first. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND Senator Cardin. Madam Chair, thank you for the courtesy. I wanted to have the opportunity to reintroduce Dr. Macfarlane to our Committee. I believe when you were here last time Senator Blumenthal introduced you because your roots are in Connecticut. But you have shown the good sense to become a resident of Maryland, so I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you back to the Committee and thank you very much for your public service. And we know this is a family commitment, your husband is here, and we thank your family for their understanding and your continued service to our Country. At your last hearing, there was a lot of discussion about the collegiality or lack of collegiality in regards to the Commission. Thank you for the leadership you have shown in restoring the type of collegiality that is critically important for the Commission. That is not just my view. The Nuclear Energy Institute CEO, Marvin Fertel, said ``Chairman Macfarlane has achieved notable progress in returning a climate of collegiality within the Commission.'' We certainly are pleased to see that type of progress. Dr. Macfarlane is an expert on nuclear waste issues, a critical issue since the industry lacks a permanent waste storage site. She holds a Doctorate in Geology from MIT and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from the University of Rochester. Before Dr. Macfarlane became the Commission's 15th Chair, she was an Associate Professor in Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University. From 2010 to 2012, she served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future which President Obama established to make recommendations about a national strategy for dealing with the Nation's high level nuclear waste. Her research is focused on environmental policy and international security issues associated with nuclear energy, especially the back end of nuclear fuel cycle. During her academic career she held Fellowships at Radcliffe College, MIT and Stanford and Harvard Universities, and from 2003 to 2004 she was on the faculty of Georgia Tech on Earth Science and International Affairs. From 1998 to 2000, she was a Social Science Research Fellow and MacArthur Foundation Fellow in International Peace and Security. She also served on the National Academy of Science Panel on Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons Issues. So, Madam Chair, as you can see, she brings to this position a wealth of experience, a wealth of academic background and is eminently qualified to serve as Chairman as she has. Madam Chair, I regret, as you pointed out, I will not be able to stay for the rest of the hearing, but I appreciate the opportunity of reintroducing Dr. Macfarlane and to commend her to the Committee. I believe she has both the requisite technical knowledge and management skills needed to lead the NRC. I thank the Chair for the courtesy to introduce her. Senator Boxer. Thank you. Senator Vitter, we will have you go next and I will follow you. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DAVID VITTER, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF LOUISIANA Senator Vitter. Great. Thank you, Madam Chair. I am very excited to have this hearing. It was originally planned for 4 weeks ago but the Chair had questions that needed to be answered and I would be the last person who would object to that. [Laughter.] Senator Boxer. Let us just say I had four questions, not 1,000. Senator Vitter. Four questions, 4 weeks, but they have been answered apparently. [Laughter.] Senator Boxer. Actually, they have not been answered at all. [Laughter.] Senator Boxer. And we are still doing it. Mark my words. Senator Vitter. Well, if you want to delay a set of things, we can discuss that possibility. [Laughter.] Senator Boxer. No, my questions have not been answered. We are having the hearing. So, let that be a sign. [Laughter.] Senator Vitter. The NRC plays an important role in promoting and maintaining the safety standards of nuclear reactors across the U.S. which makes the U.S. fleet the safest in the world. And Chairman, as Chair of the NRC you are entrusted with providing responsible stewardship of those nuclear reactor assets. That responsible stewardship not only includes promulgating and enforcing stringent safety standards but also ensuring that such regulations do not unnecessarily burden industry and consumer interests. So, our duty as members of this Committee is to confirm that any nominated leader is qualified and competent in this specific field and to ensure that the NRC pursues its goals in a responsible and efficient way. Nuclear energy has become an indispensable contributor to our base load electricity needs and will continue to be for years to come. Safety, of course, is the priority for members of this Committee as it is for members of your body. Since Fukushima, NRC has devoted significant amounts of resources into implementing its lessons learned and nobody would argue against those safety precautions. While the NRC has traditionally accomplished this through an objective approach, concerns have been brought to my attention in regards to possible or threatened departures from this method. And the departure is prevalent in the Commission's consideration of requiring filtered vents at some nuclear facilities. While I appreciate the Commission's decision to take a further look at the need for this requirement, I worry that in the light of Fukushima some new culture of hasty regulatory implementation may overtake the NRC's tradition of impartial regulation. After Three Mile Island many regulations were imposed that created heavy burdens at great cost which, after enforcement, were found to have no substantial impact on safety. This parallel was included as a cautionary comment in the NRC's own near-term task force report and it was noted by Commissioner Svinicki in her March 19 vote. This should especially be kept in mind as you continue to deal with issues surrounding SONGS. Any decision made on the issue should be based only on sound science and objective facts. And again, while safety is of the utmost importance, we must keep in mind the impact of unnecessary or burdensome regulations that have no safety impact. Again, thank you very much for being here today, Dr. Macfarlane, and I look forward to hearing from you on these important issues. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BARBARA BOXER, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA Senator Boxer. Dr. Macfarlane, today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets to reconsider your nomination as Chairman of the NRC. I look forward to discussing your views on the role of the NRC and further ensuring the safety of nuclear reactors across the Country. That is the job of the NRC. I am very pleased to see in your testimony that you fostered a productive working relationship with other Commissioners during your time as Chairman, and I do believe the Commission is focused on its important safety and security mission. The most important work for the Commission is to meet its mission, to regulate the use of radioactive materials to protect public health and safety, promote the common defense and security, and protect the environment. That is your official role. That is spelled out in the NRC's Mission Statement. So, people might have a different view of the NRC, it is to promote nuclear power, not at all what the function and the role is as designed in the legislation that set up the NRC. It is all about safety, promoting the common defense and security, and protecting the environment. That is what it is. Your solemn responsibility is to ensure safety at the Nation's 104 commercial nuclear reactors and at the thousands of facilities that use radioactive materials. And I want to point out that if people have confidence in the safety, nuclear power will continue to move forward. If they lose confidence, that is the end. Because I know you can talk to the folks in Japan about how they reacted to what occurred there. The NRC's progress in implementing the post-Fukushima safety enhancements is a key indicator for the Commission's ability to successfully accomplish its mission. You have made some progress. But much work remains to be done to apply the lessons of this nuclear disaster. The Commission must not waver in its commitment to promptly implement all the needed safety improvements and I will call hearings to look at your progress. As I think about the importance of fully addressing the post-Fukushima recommendations, the safety of the 8 million people who live within 50 miles of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station in California is constantly in the forefront of my mind. I am deeply concerned by the problems that plague this damaged facility. This nuclear plant is located in a seismic zone and, as if that was not enough, in a tsunami zone. And we all know that if there was no nuclear power plant there and someone came in and said I want a license for this, to put the nuclear plant right here, right in a seismic and tsunami zone, we all know every single Commissioner would say, don't think you could find a better place for it? Now, in January 2012, a leak of radioactive material led to discovery of unexpected deterioration of the tubes in the plant's new steam generators. The plant has been shut down ever since. The NRC's investigation into the cause of this serious damage must be thorough and it must involve the public. Eight million people live there, within 50 miles. The thought of families in the U.S. facing an accident such as the type of accident the people of Japan faced or in Fukushima makes me have sleepless nights and should make us all much more vigilant. So, the American people have a right to expect the best of the people serving in these critical positions. And I know that you come to us with great credentials, you have a good working relationship, which is very important as far as the Commission is concerned. But for me, what I want to see and what I want to hear is that this dedication to safety is something you hold near and dear. Thank you very much. And we will call on Senator Inhofe. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES M. INHOFE, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA Senator Inhofe. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Let me make one comment about the disaster in Oklahoma that was brought up by Dr. Macfarlane and you as well as Ben Cardin and others. It is an indescribable thing unless you have been there and have seen it. The irony is, in this case, 14 years ago at the same time I was there when the same tornado tracked the same area and hit the same ground, the same. And you look and you see that some of that was not even totally rebuilt after 14 long years. So, I heard someone say, over there, that the problem 3 days ago when I was there, 2 days ago, was to try to match the missing parents with the missing kids. And I appreciate all of the comments that we have gotten. Chairwoman Macfarlane, I appreciate your appearing before us today. First, I want to thank you for restoring the congeniality. This is something I felt very strongly about. I know it gets a little bit controversial but your predecessor did not do as good a job as you are doing, in my opinion, in terms of dealing with your people. And having the congeniality is necessary in any bureaucracy. One of the most exciting developments over the past few years has been the tremendous expansion of oil and gas drilling. Where many believed that we would become a major natural gas exporter at the time, all that is said and it looks like we are going to be able to become, or rather an importer, gas exporters. So, that is very important. And it is important to look at the overall energy as we approach the, becoming independent in this Nation. When I talk about energy independence, I am not just talking about oil and gas production. Nuclear energy is, without question, one of the most important assets. And if the United States pursues a lackluster nuclear policy, then it may be impossible for us to achieve this important bipartisan goal. Unfortunately, the future of American nuclear energy is facing many of the same hurdles as the oil and gas industry and one of the key threats is overregulation by the Government. As with oil and gas producers, we are facing major regulatory hurdles to mine uranium and other feed stocks. Many Federal lands have been ruled off limits by the current Administration despite a long-proven track record of extracting the minerals in an environmentally safe way. And as we are all well aware, there have also been major hurdles to establish a long-term depository for nuclear waste. Some of the threats to the industry also come from the Commission. And this has occurred most recently in the aftermath of the Fukushima event. While several emergency orders were awarded and justifiable, such as addressing issues like extreme natural events and the measuring of seismic risks, others were not. My main concern stems from the attempt to use the emergency orders to impose a costly filtered vents requirement without adequate consideration of the cost benefits, appropriate risks or differences in the United States and the Japanese regulatory practices which are quite different. These actions and several of the statements that you made to justify your decisions make me wonder whether you are approaching the job with a bias that the industry is unsafe and that regular accidents are inevitable despite the industry's remarkable track record over the past 40 years. The NRC has many important responsibilities that, if handled correctly, will actually accelerate our ability to achieve and maintain energy independence. The NRC has a tremendous historical record of working well with industry and balancing the needs of public safety and a workable regulatory environment. If you are confirmed, it is my hope that you will continue to ensure the nuclear energy industry remains vibrant in the United States for many generations. Again, thank you for being here today. I would like to ask you some questions about your vote on filtered vents, the issue of being based on the prospective of Greenpeace and whether you will respect the court's final decision on Yucca Mountain. But I may have to leave early because, as is always the case with this Committee, we have that conflict on every hearing. So, what I would like to do is ask those two questions for the record in the event I am not here when we ask questions to you. Thank you very much. Senator Boxer. OK. Senator Carper. Oh, wait, did Senator Sanders come before? I cannot remember. Senator Carper. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS R. CARPER, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF DELAWARE Senator Carper. I would be happy to yield to the gentleman from Vermont. Thanks so much for holding this hearing, Madam Chairman. I know you have concerns that you have expressed before and today. I just urge the Chair of the NRC to be as responsive as you can be to those concerns. I know you will be. I will just be brief, really brief. We went through a tough patch on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. You provide new leadership and by all accounts you provide very, very good leadership, restoring collegiality, a sense of cohesion and respect, respect not just from your colleagues but from the employees at the NRC and from the many stakeholders. You do not have an easy job. It is a challenging job. It is hard to please everybody all the time. And I think if you will just continue to do what you think is right, work hard, provide the kind of leadership that you are doing, the NRC will be fine and we will be as a Country. We are counting on you. We are counting on your colleagues. The work that you do is important for our Nation in many respects for providing energy and for helping to clean our air. And for that, we thank you. Senator Boxer. Are you finished? Senator Carper. Yes. Senator Boxer. OK. Senator Sessions followed by Senators Sanders, Fischer, and Barrasso. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF ALABAMA Senator Sessions. Congratulations, Ms. Macfarlane. The President has again found confidence in you and nominated you and his nomination deserves respect. There is no doubt you entered into the office in a tumultuous period and I believe you have done a good job of bringing that group together. I hear good reports and we have not seen the kind of unhealthy internal disputes that we saw before. I guess maybe Senator Carper's always good advice is the rule of do unto others and he is a big fan of yours. But I think you have done that. At your confirmation hearing last year, it was unique. I noted your background is not the kind of background I would normally look for in a chairman. And that could cause a situation in which decisions get made more on a political basis rather than a technical basis. I hope you will guard against that. I have looked at your record. I would note that your vote on filtered vents suggests that you are willing to impose costly new mandates without allowing the public the liberty of the rulemaking process. The other Commissioners disagreed with your view on that, all of them did. Public notice and comment is a critical component of good governance at any agency, but especially the NRC, which has to deal with such highly complex and technical issues. Even the NRC's principles of good regulation are designed to ``focus the NRC on ensuring safety and security while appropriately balancing the interests of the NRC stakeholders including public licensees.'' That is why openness is an important issue and principle. The anti-nuclear people believe in openness, they are entitled to it, and those who are for nuclear power need to have that, too. So, it would be a concern to me that if you were too willing to reach firm conclusions without a full and open process, as Commissioner Apostolakis wrote in this vote: ``Vibrant debate continues to take place on this filtered vent issue and there remain technical questions to be resolved. Pursuing such requirements through the rulemaking process will give all stakeholders the opportunity to discuss these issues.'' The issuance of orders without rulemaking constrains the extent of stakeholder interaction. Second, you indicate a willingness to use more subjective qualitative factors when the history of the agency and its practice is to be more focused on objective quantitative factors. In other words, you seem willing to approve new mandates like filtered vents even when that option is not supported by robust numbers-driven cost benefit analysis as the rulemaking process requires. Commissioner Magwood correctly described, I believe, your use of qualitative factors as an ``extraordinary step'' that he notes ``goes well beyond previous guidance.'' So, I think that is a dangerous process and it allows more emotional and political influences if you do not do it on the record on a fact basis. NRC guidance on cost benefit analysis in fact states that qualitative analysis, the kind of analysis that you relied on in this instance, should only be used as a ``last resort.'' As Commissioner Magwood explained in his vote, your approach could be used to ``justify essentially any regulatory change.'' So this would undermine the regulatory certainty that I think we need. And finally, you have done a good job in leading the Commission. I appreciate that. But we will be, I think it is important as you go into your second term, full term I guess, that you adhere to these fundamental principles and that is important to me. Madam Chairman, I have a couple of questions that I would just mention and I may not be able to return. I would note that I will be asking you about the principles of independence and your willingness to resist groups and pressures from Congress and other places to reach an independent decision as I believe you are sworn to do and as you have testified. And, that you would be, understand that your vote, absent a real emergency, we had a problem with Mr. Jaczko on this, your vote is equal to only the others. Your power, other than administrative power, leadership power, has no more impact than the others, and the entire board needs to be engaged in these issues. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Senator Boxer. And I am going to piggyback on that and ask not only should you be independent from all of these groups, but from the nuclear industry. So, I will ask my question, so you will have a chance to answer his and mine. We are going to go to Senator Sanders. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BERNARD SANDERS, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF VERMONT Senator Sanders. Thank you, Madam Chair. Ms. Macfarlane, it is no secret that for decades the NRC was kind of perceived by the public as a tool, if you like, of the industry, a very, very powerful industry. And I happen to think that Mr. Jaczko did a good job. I suspect that his major problem was that he was independent of the industry and some other Members did not like him. So, in terms of the independence that Senator Sessions raised, I hope, also, that you will be independent but independent of one of the most powerful industries in this Country. And, as the Chairwoman mentioned a moment ago, your job is an enormously important one. But it is not the promotion of nuclear power, which many people now believe is a very expensive way to generate new electricity, but the safety of the American people. I want to simply add that when we discuss nuclear power and energy in general, many of my friends talk about the Government not picking winners and losers. And I hope everybody here understands that without the Federal Government's heavy support, heavy subsidization of the nuclear power industry, there would be no nuclear power. So, when some of us argue that we have to move in order to deal with global warming away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy and to energy efficiency, we need Government support because, oh no, we do not want Government support, understand that the nuclear power industry would be dead tomorrow without legislation like Price-Anderson. Very few people understand that if, God forbid, there is a major nuclear disaster in this Country, you know who picks up the bill? It will be the taxpayers of this Country. And when you say well, why don't you go to Wall Street to get the help, it is because Wall Street thinks it is too risky an investment. But, my question for you, and I also am going to have to leave and I will put it in writing and would very much appreciate hearing from you, and we did discuss this on several occasions, in Vermont, this is our concern. We have an aging nuclear reactor called Vermont Yankee that has had a number of problems over the years. Our legislature has voted not to renew its license, wants to shut it down. They are in court right now arguing about this. There is good reason to believe that either for political reasons Vermont would prevail and shut it down or for economic reasons, an old plant is not worth Entergy maintaining, the plant will be shut down. What the people of Vermont are concerned about is that Entergy, which owns the plant, has suggested that they may want to go into a SAFSTOR process which means you are going to have a plant there for 30, 40 or 50 years, a rotting hulk in the southern part of the State of Vermont, rather than decommissioning, moving quickly in a few years, putting people to work tearing apart that plant in a safe way. So, what I will ask you in writing and very much want to hear from you as definitively as we can is, my understanding is that all over the world and in this Country when nuclear plants are shut down, they are decommissioned, in a few years they are gone and the waste is safely disposed of, or as safely as it might be. So, I would like to ask your help in making sure that plants in the Country, it is Vermont Yankee now but there are other plants a few years down the line who are going to be in exactly the same position, that when a nuclear plant is shut down, communities do not have to keep a rotting hulk there for 30, 40 or 50 years. So, that would be my question, and I thank you very much for being here. Senator Boxer. Thank you. Senator Fischer followed by Senator Barrasso. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DEB FISCHER, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF NEBRASKA Senator Fischer. Thank you, Madam Chairman, and thank you, Ranking Member Vitter, for holding today's hearing. Welcome Dr. Macfarlane. I appreciate your willingness to continue to serve the people of this Country. Nebraska is unique and we are very proud of the way we do things. Nebraska has the distinction of being the only State in the Country where every single home and every single business receives electric service from publicly owned power, publicly owned utilities. Our public power system exists to serve customers, to deliver affordable and reliable electricity. In Nebraska, electricity costs are well below the national average, thanks in part to our nuclear energy. Nebraska normally receives more than 25 percent of its electricity from its two nuclear power plants. Our citizens appreciate access to this clean and affordable energy source. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plays an important role in ensuring the safety and the security of our nuclear power and inspiring public trust and confidence that we have in our system. As the NRC does its work, it is critical that the Commission adheres to its principles of good regulation, independence, openness, efficiency, clarity and reliability. Now more than ever, we need an agency that will put these principles into practice. From the implementation of new safety enhancements to the review and approval to licensing requests, there is much at stake for the nuclear industry here in the United States. Dr. Macfarlane, I look forward to continuing our discussion on these important issues and again, I offer my thanks for your service. Senator Boxer. Thank you, Senator. Senator Barrasso. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN BARRASSO, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF WYOMING Senator Barrasso. Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. Welcome back to the Committee. I am happy to see you. Since I came to the Senate, I have worked closely with my colleagues to ensure that nuclear energy can continue to be a vital part of America's energy mix. Nuclear energy is essential if we are going to make American energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising costs for families and businesses. Over the last 4 years, we have witnessed a competing vision of American energy, a vision that says Washington will pick costly and unreliable energy alternatives because, of course, Washington believes it knows best. The Washington vision is a vision that says nuclear energy must take a back seat to other forms of energy, despite the industry's proven track record of reliability and affordability. Over the last 4 years, Congress and the executive branch have debated the lessons of Fukushima, the storage of nuclear management and the management of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Fukushima was a major event. And it is not just for its impact on Japan, but also for implications here in the United States. As with any major event involving nuclear power, there are immediate calls for new regulations, especially from those who have long campaigned again nuclear energy. As we consider this nomination, I believe we need a nominee who would proceed cautiously on these proposals. On February 4th of this year I, along with other Republican members of this Committee, sent a letter to the nominee. In that letter, we asked that she take a prudent and thoughtful approach to evaluating the lessons of Fukushima and, where necessary, conduct a cost benefit analysis. We also expressed concerns that the NRC is moving forward with implementation of costly post-Fukushima recommendations beyond those identified as Tier 1 without fully analyzing the differences between the regulatory and safety cultures of Japan and the United States. There are significant differences between the regulatory and safety cultures in Japan and the United States. The nuclear industry and the regulatory agencies in the U.S. have an excellent track record of safety. I am concerned with the amount of resources being dedicated to addressing new regulations related to Fukushima, that there is a possibility that the NRC will fail to address potential safety issues that exist at our plants today. We cannot allow that happen. We need a nominee who will take a thoughtful approach to addressing these issues and we need a nominee that will recognize that the regulations beyond Tier 1 can be costly to the industry and yield in terms of actual safety benefits. I will say to the nominee that your tenure has brought significant change to the NRC. I believe that collegiality has returned to the NRC under your leadership and I want to thank you for that. I hope that collegiality will be applied to addressing other issues such as the storage of nuclear waste. The nominee served on the Blue Ribbon Commission that made a series of recommendations for the storage of nuclear waste. Now, I have long been a supporter of Yucca Mountain and I continue to believe that the project should move forward. There are some who have doubted that long-term or interim storage can work. I disagree with them. The recommendations by the Blue Ribbon Commission to transport waste to interim sites could give the industry the opportunity to demonstrate that working with DOE and the NRC it can build and supply and safely supply a long-term storage site in the future. We need a nominee that recognizes that those who oppose the use of nuclear energy would like nothing more than to have the industry choke on its own waste, get weighed down by regulatory burdens or bow to political pressures to the point that the industry is no longer viable. I realize that the role of the NRC Chairman is not to be a cheerleader for the industry. I also believe any nominee should not have an agenda either to drive this reliable, affordable energy source out of our Country's energy portfolio. With that, I look forward to the questions and raising these and other important issues to my State with the nominee today. Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. Senator Boxer. Thank you, Senator. Well, you know, this issue, it is great that you are collegial. But I just want to stress that we are very collegial, we do not agree on every single thing. It is OK. So, there is a difference between being collegial and being rubber- stamping, everybody looking the same way and walking out in the same, the same thing. We need people on the Commission right, left, center, pro- nuclear or nervous about it, looking at it however they look at it, to say what they think, or we are not served well. I want to make a point. I want to put into the record, without objection, do not start the questioning now, we have to do this, a letter than I sent to you along with Senator Wyden about Fukushima and I felt that, and not only that, we had a whole slew of people who signed on to this letter, making the point, and Senator Barrasso, I think this is critical, 31 of our nuclear plants are identical to the one that had problems in Fukushima. So, of course there are other problems we have to look at. But we should not reinvent the wheel. If we are the same design 31 times, I think we can learn, you know, from that. So, let us agree with you that let us not obsess over it, but since there are 31 plants, those plants should not make the same mistake as plants that we had in Fukushima and all of the horrible problems there and the people turning against nuclear. That does not really help the nuclear industry. And the other point I make about Yucca Mountain, I mean, this is still a fight, right? I thought it was over but obviously it is still there. I want to make a point for my people in California who, if there is a leak, and it shows that there were leaks when they had the tests, that there would be leakage to our underground water supply and Republican members of boards of supervisors all over that area of my State, which is a pretty wet part of my State, said no way, no how. So, again, I feel bad that you have to deal with these difficult issues every day. It is, we know what that is like here. But there are very different views on it. Now, I will not take my 5 minutes. I know you want to do a statement but I want to make one point. In your statement, which you are doing now, if you can just answer the questions that you know I want to hear about, San Onofre, then I will not have to ask you those questions later. Go ahead. [The referenced letter follows:] [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT] STATEMENT OF ALLISON MACFARLANE, CHAIRMAN, U.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION Ms. Macfarlane. Thank you. Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Vitter, Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Sessions and members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. I am honored that the President has nominated me to continue my service on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I also want to thank my husband, Hugh Gusterson, for his constant support and for being here with me this morning. Before I begin, I would like to take a moment to extend my deepest sympathies to the people of Oklahoma as they recover from the enormous tragedy that they have just suffered. We have been in close contact with our Agreement Statement Partners in Oklahoma and they have verified that all licensed nuclear materials that were in the vicinity of the tornado are now secure. Last June, I committed to you that I would foster a collegial, productive working environment at the NRC. The NRC faced challenges and I committed to meet them. From the first day, I made it my practice to meet regularly with my fellow Commissioners to hear and understand their views and establish collegial relationships with each of them. I value their expertise and perspectives and I believe that we have alleviated the challenges and are now focused on the important safety and security mission at the NRC. I have been privileged to get to know the NRC staff and have benefited greatly from their guidance. I have visited each of the NRC's four regional offices, our training center in Tennessee and a number of our licensed facilities including the Diablo Canyon, Indian Point and San Onofre nuclear power plants. I will travel to the Vogtle construction site in a couple of weeks and see the construction there. I have been impressed by our resident inspectors and the talented men and women of the NRC who are dedicated to ensuring that our licensed facilities operate at a consistently high level of safety, that nuclear materials are protected from those with malicious intent and that the public has confidence in our work. During my tenure, the NRC staff has continued its excellent work. Our most recent plant performance data demonstrates that the majority of plants are performing well. We continue to implement post-Fukushima safety enhancements to protect further our licensed facilities against severe accidents. The staff is working to address Waste Confidence in a timely and comprehensive manner. The NRC remains committed to ensuring the safe construction of new nuclear facilities without undue delays. When our staff identified potential problems at the Vogtle and Summer plants, the NRC expedited its comprehensive review of license amendments in addressing these issues to enable the sites to safely move forward with construction. I have also ensured that we are prepared to process new reactor license applications, including those for small modular reactor technology. Under my leadership, the NRC has navigated a number of internal challenges. I am proud that our agency has been able to address sequestration without furloughs. I am also managing extensive succession planning among the agency's senior management including the replacement of our retiring Executive Director of Operations. Further, I have ensured that the NRC is taking the necessary steps to reduce its office space footprint and make more efficient use of our space in close cooperation with the General Services Administration. And finally, I have been a strong proponent of effective engagement with the public and plain language communication. I have also assumed several important international leadership roles in activities that directly benefit the NRC's domestic mission. I led the U.S. delegation to a major nuclear safety conference in Japan late last year and in January I became Chair of the Multinational Design Evaluation Program, a collaborative international program that focuses on new reactor designs and will give important input to our own construction oversight. If confirmed, I will remain committed to openness, transparency, fairness and efficiency in the NRC's processes. I will continue to seek views from a broad range of parties affected by our work and ensure those views inform the agency's actions. I will oversee timely implementation of continued post- Fukushima safety enhancements while ensuring that this work does not distract the staff from other important safety and security priorities. I will endeavor to more fully integrate our consideration of the entire fuel cycle and I will also work to ensure that the starting point for all agency decisions is rigorous scientific analysis. I have been honored to serve as Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the past 10 months. The NRC has accomplished a tremendous amount in that short time and my leadership has promoted the openness and collegiality necessary for us to focus on our priorities. There are a number of challenges ahead but I believe we are on a good course. If confirmed, I enthusiastically look forward to continuing to lead the talented staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission through what promises to be a dynamic and rewarding 5 years. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and I would be pleased to answer your questions. [The prepared statement of Ms. Macfarlane follows:] [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT] Senator Boxer. Thank you. I want to talk to you about San Onofre which is a cause of great alarm for a lot of people there and even the group, the judges, the Administrative Law Judges, that you, the NRC, all of you, asked to comment on whether there needs to be a public hearing about what is going on there before the plant is opened. So, there is seriousness here. And the population in just San Diego County and since the original plant was approved has increased by more than 300 percent. And so again, we have 8 million people there and when I asked the sheriff, the county sheriff, what would the evacuation look like if there was a problem, she pointed to the road and said that is the evacuation plan. And anyone who knows California roads knows that it is always crowded there and God forbid in case of any kind of emergency what would happen. So, as the population near the plant has dramatically expanded, we have learned more and more about the threats of operating nuclear reactors there. We better understand the full extent of the seismic risk because there was a new report done several years ago that discovered another fault. We know the plant is located in a tsunami zone. This thing is really disturbing. And we know after Fukushima the devastating impact these two forces of nature can have on nuclear power plants. So, you put it all together and to me it says one word, danger. Now, I was very pleased that you and every one of your colleagues on the Commission assured me at our last oversight hearing that you will not let this plant start up unless you are absolutely convinced it is safe to operate. I asked each one of you then, will you let this plant start up if you are not absolutely convinced it is safe to operate. Everyone said they were with me, they would not allow it to open. Now, in an October letter to me, you reaffirmed, this is your words, reaffirmed the Commission's commitment that the agency will not allow a restart at San Onofre until the investigation is completed and the facility is safe to operate. Now, I want all of the investigations to be completed before the plant is restarted. And it is very important that the Commission not back pedal on this. Southern California Edison, who runs this plant, wants to rush to restart. We have seen documents over the last several months that reveal that SoCal Edison is trying to get approval to restart without ensuring that the problems are fixed. They have actually asked to operate the plant before the investigation is completed at 70 percent of power. And they said something like this, I am paraphrasing, we will start it at 70 percent and we will see what happens. We will see how it goes. That is like saying I think I fixed the damaged brakes on your car but do not drive it over 40 miles per hour. Do whatever when you get in the car. And as I said, three Administrative Law Judges just recently on the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board who were chosen by your Commission and who are distinguished experts in nuclear safety found Southern California's proposal to startup at 70 percent was ``an experiment.'' Well, maybe there are some people here would like to experiment on my people. But I am not going to let it happen. Let us be clear. And this group, this Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, which is selected by the NRC, also ruled that the public should be provided with a meaningful hearing opportunity before the NRC makes a restart decision. So we have talked about this a lot. You know of my concern for the 8 million who live within 50 miles of the plant. So, do you agree that the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled that the San Onofre Restart Plan should be considered a license amendment that gives the public an opportunity for a hearing? I am not asking whether you agree with them. I am asking, do you agree that they ruled that the Restart Plan should be considered a license amendment that gives the public an opportunity for a hearing? Ms. Macfarlane. Yes, I agree. Senator Boxer. NRC's Office of Investigations is currently looking into whether SoCal Edison provided the Commission with complete and accurate information. So, do you believe that the investigation should be completed by your Office of Investigation on this issue before any decision is made to restart? Ms. Macfarlane. Senator, it is my personal belief that the technical staff should have all the conclusions from the Office of Investigation investigation available to them prior to any restart decision. And my understanding, currently, is that based on what we know today, that these two, the restart decision and the Office of Investigation investigation, will conclude around the same time. Nonetheless, if the Office of Investigation investigation is not complete when the technical staff is ready to make a restart decision, the technical staff will, following their procedures, talk to the Office of Investigation's staff and ask are there any significant safety issues that should affect our restart decision. That said, the technical evaluation and the Office of Investigation investigation are two separate processes and it is very important that the agency maintain the integrity of these processes. Senator Boxer. Well, I do not say that the, I agree that there should be integrity. I do not agree under any circumstances that there ought to be a restart until the entire investigation is complete. So, we have a bit of a difference. But let me just say here, lawsuit. There is no way, at all, that any judge, in my view, reading the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruling that calls all of this an experiment, is going to allow this to go. So, just let me tell you this. I respect what you said. I do not agree with what you said. An investigation is an investigation. If it has subpart a, b, c and d, they have to be completed because it is very important, if we find, let us just say, the SoCal Edison was not honest in what they said to the Commission but you allow them to restart until you really know, it is a problem. So, we disagree on that. Now, NRC is also investigating allegations of willful wrongdoing, willful wrongdoing, at San Onofre. Do you believe the results of investigations into potential criminal conduct are relevant to SoCal Edison's credibility to build and operate nuclear reactors? Ms. Macfarlane. Again, I would, just as I have done, said yes, it is my personal belief that these investigations, in an ideal world, would be complete and inform, be available to inform the technical staff's restart decision prior to that restart decision. Senator Boxer. OK. Well, I just do not agree with what you are saying because the bottom line is they have to finish this up, not that they are relevant, it goes to the heart of letting this outfit open up San Onofre. So, let the record show I do not agree with you. To me, it is pretty simple. All the parts of the investigation have to be complete, the criminal part, the part that deals with complete and accurate information and the rest of it, and what you call the technical part, whether or not they can open up at 70 percent without a new license. So, we do have disagreements here. I do appreciate your willingness to discuss these with me. I do appreciate the fact that you are telling me the way you feel. And let that be a lesson to some of my colleagues with other nominees. I do not agree with you. But I think that you are a good leader of this Commission. But I do not agree with you, on the way you are handling this, to be honest. The last question I have is, I am going to ask you for some documents. They are in the public, they have to be in the public domain. And I am going to ask you about some communications that went back and forth. Would you wait until after this hearing is over so I can tell you which documents I want, then I will put it in writing, you and your staff? Ms. Macfarlane. Sure. Senator Boxer. Thank you. Senator Vitter. Senator Vitter. Thank you, Madam Chair. Chairman Macfarlane, I am not a nuclear scientist. I am not a safety expert. I am not going to try to go to the substance of San Onofre---- Senator Boxer. San Onofre. Senator Vitter. San Onofre. [Laughter.] Senator Boxer. It is Lake Pontchartrain and San Onofre. Senator Vitter. OK. [Laughter.] Senator Vitter. I am not going to try to go to the substance of those scientific issues. I do want to ask you about the process and how it should be guided by the science and by the experts. You made remarks relevant to this on March 20 of this year at a U.S.-Japan roundtable where you described what you believe is required for a regulatory body to be effective. Specifically, you stated ``To be effective, a regulatory body must be independent from economic, policy and political interests. Its decision must not be subject to undue influence that can compromise safety.'' Do those remarks adequately represent your opinion on how the NRC should operate? Ms. Macfarlane. Yes, absolutely. Senator Vitter. And will you commit today to upholding this principle, even when faced with outside political pressures? Ms. Macfarlane. Yes, absolutely. Senator Vitter. Great. Madam Chairman, on Yucca Mountain, we have been struggling with some agencies' failure to conduct their work in an open and transparent manner. And that is why I ask, if reconfirmed as Chairman, will you commit to conduct the Commission's business in a completely and transparent manner including such things as the agency's conclusions resulting from safety analyses? Ms. Macfarlane. If confirmed, I will conduct the agency's processes in an open and transparent manner. Absolutely. Senator Vitter. Right. And does that commitment to transparency extend to the release of the NRC's conclusions regarding the Yucca Mountain Safety Analysis Report? Ms. Macfarlane. We are awaiting the court's decision on the Yucca Mountain case and the NRC will follow the law. Senator Vitter. OK. So, specifically, if the court requires the NRC to resume the license review, will you honor that court decision? Ms. Macfarlane. We will follow the law. We are very aware of the importance of this court decision, not only to the NRC, to the public, but to the Nation as a whole. Before making any final decisions, of course, I have to consult my fellow Commissioners. We are a collegial body of five and at this point in time I do not want to prejudge any decisions until I have seen the court decision. Senator Vitter. But the court decision would represent the law and you would follow it? Ms. Macfarlane. We would follow the law. Senator Vitter. OK. And going back to the Yucca Mountain Safety Analysis Report, if there is nothing in the court decision that prohibits that release of the NRC's conclusions, will you release those conclusions? Ms. Macfarlane. We will follow the law. Yes. Senator Vitter. Well, I am not sure exactly what that means. If the law does not prohibit the release of those conclusions, will you release them in the spirit of transparency? Ms. Macfarlane. Again, Senator, with all due respect, I will need to see the court's decision, I will need to discuss it with my fellow Commissioners, and at this point in time I do not want to prejudge anything about the court's decision until we have it in hand. Senator Vitter. OK, that is fine. Again, to be clear, all I am asking is if there is nothing in the court decision that prohibits that, I would specifically request that and urge that. Ms. Macfarlane. Thank you. Senator Vitter. OK, that is all I have, Madam Chairman. Thank you. Senator Boxer. Thank you, Senator Vitter. Senator Carper. Senator Carper. Is that your husband sitting right behind you? Ms. Macfarlane. It is. Yes. Senator Carper. What is his name? Ms. Macfarlane. Hugh Gusterson. Senator Carper. Mr. Gusterson, thank you very much for sharing your wife, a remarkable woman, with our Country. I think you said in your statement you have been the Chairman for about 10 months now and I just want to ask you to highlight for us, if you will, over that period of time how the NRC has strengthened the safety culture at a number of nuclear power plants. Just give us some examples of how you think you strengthened the safety culture at those plants. Ms. Macfarlane. Sure. We oversee the safety culture at our nuclear power plants in part through our reactor oversight process and we evaluate what goes on at the plants and ensure that there is an operating safety culture, that there are not any chilling effects, that employees feel free that they can bring up problems and will not be discriminated against. And these are issues that we look for on a day-to-day basis at the reactors. Senator Carper. All right. Are there some other things that we ought to be doing or that we could be doing? Not just you as the Chair, not just the NRC Commissioners, not just the folks who work with you, but including us here in the Congress, especially on this Committee. What are some things that we might be doing to better ensure that our nuclear plants are safe that you are aware of or mindful of at this time? Ms. Macfarlane. I think one of the most important things that certainly we at the NRC can do and I think the industry can do and you and Congress, to the degree that you can and it would be helpful, is to work on communication. I think communication is extremely important in the issue of regulating nuclear facilities. We need to be clear about what everybody's role is and we need to be clear about the issues and we need to engage the public and all concerned folks on these issues and make sure that each of us understands the concerns of each other. Senator Carper. Did you tell us in your statement that you are looking forward to going and visiting the construction sites for the four new nuclear plants down in, what is it, South Carolina and Georgia? Ms. Macfarlane. In Georgia, yes. I will be there the first week of June. Senator Carper. Just give us a brief, just a brief update in terms of how those projects are coming along in terms of expected schedule, cost, problems that they are facing, successes that they have achieved, please. Ms. Macfarlane. Yes, this has been a good process. There are four reactors under construction, two in South Carolina, two in Georgia. In March, both sites poured their nuclear concrete and the South Carolina site has laid the basket to receive the containment vessel. So, they are progressing nicely. There have been some issues where the plant had to submit a license amendment request. We are following a new process in licensing and constructing these plants now and that is in response to industry request. We now have a combined operating license. So, the licensee will submit a design to the NRC and we hold them to building that design. That is what we have evaluated, that is what they are going to build because then they will be able to operate once it is constructed. And there were some issues with the construction not being built to the design and we have dealt with them. We are moving forward. We are examining ``lessons learned'' ourselves at our agency. So, I think it is a success story overall. Senator Carper. Good. Thanks. One last question. As you know, we have already referred to here to extreme weather events such as the horrific tornado in Oklahoma earlier this week and Super Storm Sandy which visited my part of the Country which seem to be occurring with greater frequency these days. Folks tell us extreme weather events are expected to remain and maybe even get worse as we move into the future. Could you talk for a moment about what the NRC has done or is doing to better ensure that our nuclear facilities are safe as we face these extreme weather episodes and what more, if anything, can or should be done or is being done? Ms. Macfarlane. I appreciate that question. As an earth scientist, I appreciate the question. And I have a particular view as an earth scientist. I would not call these events extreme. I would call them normal. They may be extreme because we have very limited experience on this earth with them, but they are normal events. And being normal events means we need to, at the NRC, make sure that we are accounting for them and that our facilities are prepared to deal with them. And so, we are in the process of evaluating and updating and requesting that our facilities update their evaluations. Right now, we are in the process of requesting that our facilities update their evaluations of their seismic hazards and the flooding hazards and, as we work through our Fukushima activities, we will move on to examining other external events such as missiles generated by tornados and hurricanes and that kind of thing. Senator Carper. OK. Thanks very much. Thanks for your responses to our questions. Thanks for being here. Thanks for your service and for your willingness to serve further. Ms. Macfarlane. Thanks. Senator Boxer. Thank you, Senator. Senator Fischer, you have questions, and then we will have Senator Boozman conclude with his questions at that time. Senator Fischer. Thank you, Madam Chairman. As you know, Nebraska has uranium. And in the regulation of facilities that recover uranium using in situ recovery technology, the NRC has asserted regulatory jurisdiction over all aspects of their operations in a Commission vote in 1999, including activities that are regulated by our State, the State of Nebraska, and other States under their primacy authority granted by the Safe Drinking Water Act. To date, this has created a duplicative regulatory environment for our State and for also the licensee. It delays licensing, complicating enforcement and extending decommissioning timelines. In other areas where there is a duplicative regulation of activities by State and Federal agencies, there are Memorandums of Understanding where there is clarification of regulatory jurisdiction. But that is not the case here with this uranium recovery. Is this regime sustainable and would the Commission be willing to provide some clarity regarding the State and Federal jurisdiction so we know how to handle these situations in the future to make it easier? Ms. Macfarlane. Certainly, Senator. The way that we handle State versus Federal requirements is that some States are what we call Agreement States and those States are given the opportunity to oversee nuclear issues and we provide them, we provide oversight of the Agreement States. And then those States that are not Agreement States, we provide direct oversight, like Wyoming, for instance. So, we are the ones who deal with the uranium recovery applications directly. Senator Fischer. So, where is Nebraska on that? Ms. Macfarlane. Nebraska is, I believe, not an Agreement State. So, we are ensuring that the licenses and applications, we oversee them ourselves. Senator Fischer. So, even though we have regulations in Nebraska and the licensee has to go through that process, you are saying that because we are not an Agreement State they also have to go through the Federal process? Ms. Macfarlane. Through the Federal process, yes. Senator Fischer. How does a State become an Agreement State? Ms. Macfarlane. There is a set process to apply and become that. I know Wyoming is in the process of considering becoming an Agreement State. It takes 3 or 4 years to get through that process. Senator Fischer. Is it your Commission, then, that would grant that? Ms. Macfarlane. Yes. Senator Fischer. Is it an easy process to go through? Ms. Macfarlane. I am not sure what the definition of easy is. [Laughter.] Senator Fischer. If it takes 3 or 4 years in this regulatory environment, that sounds pretty easy. Ms. Macfarlane. Then it is easy. [Laughter.] Senator Fischer. A lot of things take a lot longer. What is involved in that, do you know? Ms. Macfarlane. We have to be assured that the State understands our oversight processes, our regulations, that they have adequate staffing to ensure that the materials licensees, etcetera, are going to be overseen on a regular basis, and that kind of thing. Senator Fischer. OK. Thank you for that information. Your staff has stated publicly that resources are extremely limited for the licensing of uranium recovery facilities. Yet, 90 percent, I believe, of your money comes from fee recovery and that is how your agency is funded. So, how can we help to advance that process through your agency? I guess I am questioning if you really have limited resources, since you have that 90 percent fee recovery. Ms. Macfarlane. In terms of uranium recovery? Senator Fischer. Yes. Ms. Macfarlane. We do have resources to do uranium recovery right now. We can process between 8 to 10 applications at a time. We have received 14 applications since 2007 for new licenses and four for license renewals and we have processed seven to completion and three are halfway complete. And, you know, it depends on what the future brings. Right now we have been told to expect another 15 license applications by 2015 or so. And then there may be some kind of delay. But it all largely depends on what we get. Senator Fischer. And you know we have a facility in Nebraska that it has taken some time to go through the process. So, hopefully, that will move along. Ms. Macfarlane. Right. Senator Fischer. OK. Thank you very much, Doctor. Ms. Macfarlane. Thank you. Senator Boxer. Senator Boozman. Senator Boozman. Thank you, Dr. Macfarlane, thank you being here. We do appreciate your willingness to serve and this is such an important thing that you are in charge of and working hard to do a good job. You talked about the importance of using qualitative analysis versus quantitative analysis, not just, you know, quantitative analysis but the other also when you analyze issues. This has been called an extraordinary step in regard to the NRC guidance documents urging the use of qualitative analysis only after the quantitative analysis has been exhausted. And I guess, you know, and you can argue with this, but to me, I think what you are saying is facts versus opinion and common sense, to some degree. In fact, I would characterize that. But again, my concern is that you seem to be breaking from the NRC precedents of exploring and exhausting the quantitative analysis first before you get into the other. I am sorry, I am confusing myself. Again, common sense versus the facts, common sense versus an opinion, versus the facts. Ms. Macfarlane. The Commission has made a number of decisions using both quantitative and qualitative analysis in cost benefit analysis, what we call back fit analysis. And I think you may be referencing, in particular, the recent Commission decision on filtered vents and that decision was actually a two-part decision. The first part of that decision was, and it was a unanimous decision, the Commission voted unanimously to move forward to make sure that containment vents are hardened and made severe accident-capable. And that analysis that was done for that decision, included both a quantitative and a qualitative portion. So, the entire Commission supported the qualitative analysis of the hardened vents. Senator Boozman. Again, I guess we agree then, you agree with the precedents of using primarily, as you can, you exhaust the quantitative analysis, the facts, you know, the data that you can drive, before you get into the other. The problem is, and you are a scientist and you know, you understand this very well, if you do not do that, then you can essentially do whatever you want to do. Ms. Macfarlane. I will just note that this was not a precedent-setting decision. There have been a number of decisions in the past at the Agency that have relied on qualitative analysis. And I would happy to get those, to get a list of those together for you for the record. Senator Boozman. Right. And again, I am not arguing with you. But like I say, I mean, you agree that you would exhaust the facts and then get into the other. Ms. Macfarlane. In general, that is the methodology that the Agency uses. Senator Boozman. Yes, which is the scientific methodology which we all use as researchers and things like that. Let me ask you, just very quickly. You came into the Agency, or you took control at a very interesting time. I think we would all agree that it had significant problems and this and that and we were thrust into a very difficult situation. Tell me what you have learned from that. Tell me some of the changes you have made to try and get things back on the right track. Ms. Macfarlane. Well, it has been an interesting experience and it has been an excellent experience, frankly. From the first day I arrived, I started meeting with my fellow Commissioners on a regular basis and I made sure that I do, I try to meet weekly with them if they are in town, if we are all in town. Not only that, but my staff meets, all of our staffs meet on a daily basis. And I have made it a priority for my staff to make sure that they work well with their colleagues on the 18th floor. They are all above us on the 18th floor. We are on the 17th floor. So, it has been very important to me to make sure that we establish a good relationship, an open relationship, a transparent relationship. We have made sure that we share all documents with them in a timely manner, and we follow Commission procedures. But then there is also the staff piece and it has been a wonderful experience for me to get to know the staff at the NRC. They are a dedicated, extremely capable group of folks all the way down to the resident inspectors at the reactor sites. Those are fantastic people dedicated to the mission of ensuring public health and safety. And I have enjoyed talking with the staff and having detailed technical discussions, that is my favorite thing to do, and establishing a good, open working environment. Senator Boozman. Good. Thank you very much and again, we thank you for your efforts. Thank you, Madam Chair. Senator Boxer. Thank you. So, I have just two quick questions and then I am going to turn to Senator Gillibrand. We have a vote coming up shortly. I wanted to ask you because, I guess that Senator Boozman did not agree with the Commission decision to require hardening of vents. Is that what I am gathering? Senator Boozman. No, no, not at all. I think what I was trying to do was just make sure, especially now, having ability to make sure that we have processes in place where we are using facts versus opinion, using the scientific data. We can come to the right conclusion in a lot of different ways. But again, just reinforcing how important it is that we have reproducible things that we can have confidence in the decision. Senator Boxer. OK, well let me just back that up. I mean, we need to go with the science and safety science. But the vents hardening is pretty important and frankly, the filtering of these vents is important because you keep out the radiation with the filter. But I do agree, you want to have the experts tell us what we need to do and we have to learn from things like Fukushima of what failed. And I am dealing with a failed plant right now and I can tell you, it is not a pleasant experience. And the other thing I want to do is say that I had a meeting with the California Energy Commission yesterday and happily they said they have a plan in place. I want to tell you this because this is not really what would motivate you, but they have a plan in place to get us through the summer. San Onofre provides about 8 percent of the State's energy and they have made a summer assessment they feel, they say operating electricity margin is expected to be above the level at which service interruptions could occur. So, I really want to praise them. They are really, they are good at their job there. Twenty-five percent of the replacement energy is from solar and wind and the rest has to do with restarting up other plants. So, I want to just put on the record, let us not have scare tactics to rush to open a plant. We are going to be OK. And I want to praise Governor Brown and his team for just saying look, we are not in this fight, we do not know whether the plant is going to open or not, but we are going to make sure that our people have the electricity. So, that is good news. If we could then go to Senator Gillibrand. Senator Gillibrand. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, for holding this essential hearing. It is so important. The Government Accountability Office issued a report in March, as you know, that questioned the basis for assumptions about how many people would evacuate should an incident occur at Indian Point. Specific questions were raised about the residents of the shadow zone defined as outside the 10-mile radius. According to the GAO, neither the Nuclear Regulatory Commission nor the Federal Emergency Management Agency has ever examined public awareness outside the 10-mile emergency zone. We are talking about New York City, 8 million people, Westchester, surrounding areas. I wrote a letter to you May 6, I think you have gotten it, to Administrator Fugate of FEMA and Chairwoman Macfarlane, to actually take a review of this and look at independent data collection agencies to collect the information and data to better determine the potential reaction of residents in the shadow zone should an incident occur. So, my fundamental question is, if you are reconfirmed, can you assure me that you will reassess the emergency planning and evacuation system as a priority, particularly in light of the GAO's report questioning the assumptions? Ms. Macfarlane. Thank you, Senator, for the question and yes, I think I received the letter yesterday or the day before. So, we are considering it at the Commission right now. Let me assure you, to begin with, that we have been aware of the issue of shadow zone evacuations and at the NRC we have staff who have taken into account data from actual evacuations, more than 60 actual large-scale evacuations, in the United States in the past, I do not know, some decades, and looked at the experience there. And so we feed that information into our own analyses. But, let me assure you also that, as part of our Fukushima follow-on plans, we are going to examine the 10-mile emergency planning zone as part of that and we will be looking into this situation. Senator Gillibrand. A related question was, after Super Storm Sandy, obviously Westchester was largely shut down. There were very few, there was no public transportation, most emergency evacuation, the main evacuation routes were closed, almost all roads in the impacted counties were closed, and many of the communications systems were not functioning. The Governor and surrounding counties all declared states of emergency and urged people not to leave their homes. I understand that the NRC determined that the weather situation did not meet your criteria for shutting down the plant. But one consideration that I do not believe you made is whether the emergency plan could actually be implemented if there is a problem. So, I would like you to re-look at the standard because, just because Super Storm Sandy was not a significant enough hurricane to shut down your operations, the reality is if there was a problem, you would not be able to evacuate even the 10- mile radius with zero transportation infrastructure, next to zero communications ability. You would not be able to inform the community that there was a problem. So, I think that must be included and I want your commitment that you will look at that issue and give me a response on that topic. Ms. Macfarlane. We will look at that issue. Senator Gillibrand. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, I appreciate your time. Senator Boxer. Thank you. Well, we want to thank you very, very much for being here today and we will have a markup soon on this nomination, get you to the floor and get you back to your desk. And we thank you very much. And what I would like to do is talk to you and your staff about some of these requests that we have made that we have not yet received. I do have to ask you a couple of questions. Do you agree, if confirmed, to appear before this Committee or designated members of this Committee and other appropriate committees and provide information subject to appropriate and necessary security protection with respect to your responsibilities? Ms. Macfarlane. Yes. Senator Boxer. Do you agree to ensure that testimony, briefings, documents and electronic and other forms of communication of information are provided to this Committee and its staff and other appropriate committees in a timely fashion? Ms. Macfarlane. Yes. Senator Boxer. Do you know of any matters which you may or may not have disclosed that might place you in any conflict of interest if you are confirmed? Ms. Macfarlane. No. Senator Boxer. OK. So, I am just saying, noting that you have said yes, I have asked you for documents. You just said you would certainly turn them over. I am going to be specific with you in short order. So, thank you very much. We will come over to you in just a moment. Thank you, colleagues. [Whereupon, at 10:27 a.m., the committee was adjourned.] [Additional statements submitted for the record follow:] Statement of Hon. Frank R. Lautenberg, U.S. Senator from the State of New Jersey Madam Chairman, thank you for scheduling this hearing to consider the re-nomination of Dr. Allison Macfarlane to be Chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Nuclear energy has been critical to meeting our nation's energy needs. It is an emissions-free energy source that provides one-fifth of America's electricity. In my State of New Jersey, our four nuclear power reactors provide the State with more than half its electricity. But--as we saw in Japan more than 2 years ago--we need to ensure the safe operation of these facilities. In addition to operating plants safely, the United States needs to have an effective policy for disposing of and storing spent nuclear fuel. Right now, most nuclear power plants store more than 1,000 tons of nuclear waste in spent fuel pools onsite. This is not a sustainable solution. In New Jersey, nuclear waste is stored onsite at our four nuclear reactors. Some of it is in dry cask storage, but most is in spent fuel pools, which rely on a steady supply of water and electricity. Superstorm Sandy showed how important it is to ensure nuclear facilities are safe and resilient. In Japan, when the tsunami knocked the power out, we saw rescue workers desperately spraying water from fire hoses into the spent fuel pools. More than 2 years later, there are still serious concerns about the safety of spent fuel at Fukushima. One thing is clear: we must find better and safer ways to store nuclear waste to ensure that a disaster like the one that took place in Japan never happens here. That means finding more secure ways to store fuel onsite, finding agreeable places to store national spent fuel, and making sure that these sites have long-term viability. We've now heard from the President's Blue Ribbon Commission, which made a number of recommendations that could provide a path forward. As a former Commission member, I look forward to hearing from Dr. Macfarlane on how she plans to approach the Commission's proposals and fulfill its mandate. If re-confirmed, she will hear from industry interests that may oppose strong safety regulations. But do not forget-- companies that are accountable to shareholders often have to focus on short-term costs and quarterly profits. In contrast, the NRC must be accountable to the people, and it must stay focused on ensuring the safety of this generation and the next. So I expect Dr. Macfarlane, if re-confirmed, to always be on the side of safety. Relaxing regulations could harm the public and would do the industry no favors. Nuclear energy has been critical to our nation's energy needs in the past. We must take the necessary precautions now in order for that to continue in the future. Statement of Hon. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator from the State of New York Madam Chair, I am pleased to join you and my colleagues on this committee to examine the work Ms. Macfarlane has done on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Considering nuclear power's sizable footprint in New York State, I am very interested in Ms. Macfarlane's perspective on steps that can be taken to ensure the safety and transparency of this industry in the years to come. Some topics I hope will be covered during this hearing include addressing what has seemed, at times, like the modest pace for the implementation of the post-Fukashima task force recommendations. Emergency planning like this is incredibly important, especially as we continue to see the damage that natural disasters can wreak on our communities. In the same vein, I hope we can work together to address concerns raised about the ability of local infrastructure to support implementation of the emergency planning, such as in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. I would also like to ensure that it will be a priority of Ms. Macfarlane's to address concerns raised by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding emergency planning zones around plants, and the importance of understanding ``shadow evacuation zones.'' Finally, as Indian Point in New York is up for licensing renewal this year, I would like you to address the seemingly novel approach the NRC is taking with its ``timely renewal provision.'' Specifically, I would like to know how using this provision will trigger other time limits, restrictions or regulatory compliance requirements while the plants are in this status. And, whether the NRC is evaluating the criteria used for relicensing, including the length of license duration. Madam Chair, I know Ms. Macfarlane has spent a significant amount of time doing the hard, boots on the ground work. During her recent visit to New York, she met with many local elected officials, business leaders, and environmental organizations, providing the opportunity to speak directly to the Chairwoman. I applaud this effort, and I look forward to her continued work on the NRC's commitment to transparency and accountability. Thank you.