Inhofe Opening Statement at EPW Hearing on NRC’s Implementation of Fukishima Recommendations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing entitled, “NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety.”

As prepared for delivery:

Chairman Boxer, thank you for holding this hearing.

Over the last several years, I have consistently voiced my concern about the overregulation coming out of this Administration.  It has been across every industry, including nuclear.

It started with Utility MACT and the Cross State Air Pollution Rule a few years ago; then came the 316(b) Water Rule this past year.  Now, after a false start on the cap-and-trade bill, EPA is pressing ahead with aggressive and unauthorized greenhouse gas regulations for power plants.  And when you also weigh the Waters of the United States rule and the new proposal to reduce the Ozone NAAQS standard, it’s no surprise that the economy has not recovered under the Obama Administration.

In fact, if the EPA brings the Ozone standard down to 60 parts per billion, as it is taking comment on, it would put all 77 counties in Oklahoma out of attainment, making it impossible to do things like build new highways and factories.  It could also stall much of the new oil and gas development going on around the country.

These are the things that we have tried to raise attention to over the last few years, and I anticipate that will continue to be the case.

But a few years ago, if there is an agency that I did not think would get brought into this thrall of overregulation, it would be the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

I have always seen the NRC as being a leader of working cooperatively with industry to craft regulations in a way that appropriately balance safety and cost, particularly when it comes to the cumulative cost of regulations.  So when I see that the NRC is working on some 50 or 60 new policies and regulations, knowing that many of them are redundant of other policies already on the books, I have to wonder where things went wrong.

Many of these regulations will only have marginal, if any, impact on improving safety – whether security or operational – and yet their cost is massive when everything is added together.

I want the nuclear fleet in the United States to be safe, and it is safe.  The NRC on the whole has been doing its job well. 

But the fact of the matter is that NRC has grown too large, and it doesn’t have enough to do.  I’ve said several times here that I helped push the Agency’s budget higher because we thought a nuclear renaissance was coming.  It did not, but the NRC got the money anyway.  And what do government agencies do when their budget grows faster than their mission?  They overregulate.

I support reducing the NRC budget because I think a smaller NRC, at this point in time, will enable the commission to focus its efforts on its core mission and not on the development of unnecessary and redundant regulations.

I appreciate you taking the time to come testify.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these matters and look forward to working with you to craft solutions.