Jaczko must go
My professional work habits and standards were formed by 33 years in the US naval service, an organization with a proud tradition of developing independent decision makers who could be entrusted with billions of dollars worth of national assets and thousands of lives. Our tradition includes demanding training, strong mentoring programs, regular competitive evaluations and a continuing series of inspections. People who perform well are rewarded; those who fail are quickly moved aside. It is not a perfect system because it still depends on actions by inherently imperfect human beings, but it works pretty well and has processes in place that limit the damage that one person can impose.
I believe that one of the reasons that the world’s nuclear energy industry has such an excellent safety record is that it has some of the same standards and processes for developing people who make the important decisions. That is not an accident, navy nukes have played an important role in the industry since its inception.
By all of the standards that I learned, elevating Greg Jaczko to the position of Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was a bad mistake. He did not have the experience, the training, or the education required for the job. Sure, he is a bright, articulate young man who knows how to charm his way ahead; Washington, DC is full of people like him. I met hundreds of them during my nine years as a staff officer at Navy headquarters. They are “quick studies” who can pick up jargon as fast as some people learn foreign languages; it is easy for them to give the impression that they know what they are talking about as long as you do not ask too many penetrating questions.
Despite what one of his political patrons said yesterday, Jaczko is no expert in nuclear energy; he earned a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University in 1993 and a PhD in particle physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1999. His thesis topic was “An effective theory of baryons and mesons.” Here is the abstract of that thesis.
I develop an effective theory to describe the low energy behavior of baryons. The theory is motivated by several issues facing nonperturbative quantum chromodynamic (QCD) calculations: the use of the quenched approximation for exact QCD calculations, the apparent success of nonrelativistic quark flavor models and the difficulties of standard, chiral perturbation theories.
These problems are addressed by considering the baryon as a composite object, preserving the spin and flavor identity of the constituent quarks. This approach differs from standard chiral perturbation theory techniques that treat baryons as elementary particles. The method also allows us to construct effective quark-meson interactions that approximate the loop effects omitted in exact QCD calculations using the quenched approximation. These quark-meson interactions enable reparametrizations of the tree level interactions for many of the calculated loop results, reducing the size and improving the convergence of the loop diagrams. Furthermore, we relate tree-level couplings in the effective theory to equivalent matrix elements of nonrelativistic and semirelativistic quark models.
This effective theory introduces several new elements. We construct a new octet baryon operator and octet baryon propagator. We also develop new effective mass and magnetic moment couplings that significantly reduce the number of free parameters in the theory, providing physical interpretation for the parameters appearing in standard chiral perturbation theory and improving its predictability.
The theory is successfully used to determine baryon masses and magnetic moments using a small number of free parameters. We duplicate previous numerical results from chiral perturbation theory and provide improved results in many cases. In all cases, we determine excellent fits to the masses and moments using a small number of free parameters.
I will leave it to some of the more educated Atomic Insights commenters to help me explain what Jaczko was trying to say.
I can tell you that it has very little to do with the production of useful power through the conversion of nuclear fission generated heat into electricity using real materials, real chemistry, and real machinery operated by real human beings. It has nothing to do with protecting people from exposure to dangerous radiation or developing safety systems or performing probabilistic risk assessment. It does not even have anything to do with producing effective rules or managing a large, technically competent staff charged with important oversight responsibilities.
In May 2009, I attended the Nuclear Energy Assembly and the associated meeting of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN). (At 52, I do not qualify for a normal membership, but the founders of that organization made me an honorary member many years ago and I keep paying my dues each year.) Greg Jaczko had been elevated to the position of Chairman just three days before his already scheduled talk. I recorded that speech. Here is a clip that allows him to describe his background and focus areas in his own words.
My opposition to Jaczko is not partisan; I am not a registered member of either party, but I lean to the left and have often voted for Democrats, including our current President. My opposition is not because I am mad about no longer spending a few hundred million per year developing Yucca Mountain; I have been advising the nuclear industry for more than a decade that there are better ways to handle used nuclear fuel.
No, my opposition to Jaczko is because I dislike incompetent people who have been appointed to positions way beyond their Peter Principle limitations. I dislike the way those people end up acting; they are often arrogantly beyond the point of being trainable and they take out their insecurities on their staff and anyone who disagrees with them.
I also have a fundamental opposition to people who fight against nuclear energy. I am an unabashed and unashamed nuclear fission fan. Jaczko often proclaims that his only focus as a commissioner is nuclear safety and security, but I know that he was trained in the Ed Markey school of nuclear safety. In that school, the primary lesson is that the safest nuclear power plant is one that is either never completed or one that no longer operates and competes with the natural gas that some of Markey’s financial supporters prefer to sell.
Markey has been serving in Congress since 1976, the same year that Jimmy Carter was elected. One of the most important and valuable industrial facilities in his congressional district is the Distrigas of Massachusetts Liquified Natural Gas terminal that started operations in 1971, just before the Arab Oil Embargo and while the first nuclear era was in full swing.
That facility would be worthless if it had to compete against a vibrant nuclear energy industry supplying low cost, emission free electricity that could also be used for home heating. Proof of that statement can be found a few hundred miles south where the Cove Point LNG facility sat idle for decades because its territory was well supplied by plants like Calvert Cliffs, North Anna, and Salem along with low cost coal fired power plants.
In Markey’s New England area, antinuclear activism combined with the geographic limitations that prevent access to low cost coal has provided a sufficient market demand for natural gas to enable the GDF Suez owned LNG terminal to flourish and expand. It is hard to prove any direct links, but the overall effect of successfully shuttering plants like Maine Yankee, Connecticut Yankee, and Millstone I has been to shift more and more of the electricity and heating market to natural gas. I strongly believe that is a main motivator that provides the funds to support the professional opposition that is seeking to shut down the Indian Point, Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim nuclear power stations.
Yesterday, Ed Markey made the following statement about Greg Jaczko.
I believe that the president has named the best chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in its history, in terms of his commitment to nuclear safety.
Anyone who knows anything about the way that Markey feels about nuclear energy should be extremely concerned about the way that some political pundits have tried to paint this controversy as a partisan battle that will blow over through the simple evolution of issuing a partial apology and agreeing to seek the help of a third party mediator.
Aside. I strongly disagree with the analysis offered by my friend at Idaho Samizdat. The small number of voters in Nevada are not worth the political cost of tying up the agency that regulates a industry that provides tens of thousands of jobs and produces 800 billion kilowatt hours of low marginal cost, emission free electricity every year. End Aside.
When four solidly qualified, experienced, mature commissioners have already made the difficult decision to write a strongly worded letter to the White House Chief of Staff, astute observers should recognize that the situation is FUBAR (fouled up beyond all repair) and can only be solved by firing the individual who has created the situation through his inexperience, poor leadership and agressive implementation of a pre-existing agenda to do everything in his considerable appointed power to hamstring the growth of nuclear energy in both the US and around the world.
There are two hearings scheduled in the next two days in which all five commissioners have been invited to testify. One is being held by the House of Representatives and one by the Senate. I am hoping that it becomes increasingly apparent that the problem here is not partisan politics, it is a personnel performance issue that must be corrected by getting rid of the person who has has ignored his abundant counseling and opportunities to improve.
Rod, thank you for so eloquently making the case for why Gregory Jaczko must leave the NRC. His most recent shallow attempt at an apology for his poor behavior is yet another example that he lacks the leadership skills to lead such an important government agency.
Here’s a link to an online petition to President Obama to demand Jaczko’s resignation from the NRC http://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-remove-gregory-jaczko-from-the-nuclear-regulatory-commission
Why change.org for the recent online petitions? Why not the whitehouse.gov petition system? Do politicians even look at change.org?
I understand the concern of the other commissioners about response to Fukushima. I saw after TMI how a rushed response to an improbable accident degraded real safety for the operation of our nuclear fleet. This is what experienced nuclear professionals know and the undistinquished current chairman does not due to his lack of training and experience.
Here is the deal. The NRC is a regulator.
When I listens to video Rod linked I see that Jaczko has transcended from being a physics major to a regulator who understands that nuclear safety assumes fires do not get out of control contradicting assumptions about single failure.
Rod seem to be a little obsessed with Jaczko.
The first reason Rod stated is that he was in the navy and navy trains independent decision makers. Yes, that is correct, many times I had to make decisions independently. When there was a fire on my duty day, I was in charge. Of course this does not say anything about Jaczko.
The navy nuke program has an independent group similar to the NRC. They do their work quietly but effectively. An equally important skill in the navy is making sure safety regulations are followed.
I was impressed by Jaczko in the clip linked by Rod. I think fire safety is very important. As a junior junior officer, I once wrote a letter to the captain copying my congressman (which I did not send) that the ship had lost the ability to fight a fire. The DCA, Engineer, and XO would not listen. I have no idea what the captain said but he was a screamer. The department heads were very angry. The Weapons Officer said some unkind things about my mother until I picked up a scanner wrench. I said some unkind things to the Weapons Officer suggesting that yes he was bigger but he would not be able to walk for a long time. We could settle the matter by him showing me that a fire would not result in his weapons blowing up my ship instead of a commie ship. He could not! If fact he remained PO but just not at me. The other department heads calmed down and we fixed the problems.
So why was a junior junior officer dealing with department heads and where was the DCA, Engineer, and XO. Yes as a junior officer I had by prior ties screwed up. On a nuke ship, it is the location of coffee pots and the ice machine fire safety and nuclear safety. Sorry Rod you have to have a good reason besides just being in the navy.
I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your last paragraph. I think something went missing in one of your sentences: “On a nuke ship, it is the location of coffee pots and the ice machine fire safety and nuclear safety.”
I can’t pull out any useful meaning from that sequence of words?
I think Kit was trying to convey the order of the priorities in the Navy.
It sounds like Kit is not nearly as proud about his time in the Navy as Rod is of his.
Oh, was that supposed to be an (sarcastic) ordered list of priorities that he was supposed to be expected to follow in the Navy?
It was an honor to serve my country. I am grateful for the opportunities the navy provided and all the experience that came with it. I am proud of my service. I have pictures of the nuke ship that on the commissioning crew. I have a picture of the first nuke power plant that I was part of commissioning as well as the plant in Spain. The rest of the pictures are Monet reproductions with a sail boat theme, because I would rather be sailing.
The point, well no point actually! I am just find it interesting Rod prefaces a debate on the character of others with personal information about himself. Rod seems to think being in the navy has something to do with how commercial nuke plants are regulated.
I am not impressed by where you went to college or that you were I navy nuke because I have done the same things. I did care that my welders met qualifications but more importantly were the welds they made.
My experience in the navy told me that people make mistakes and do stupid things. Not closing steam generator vents when heating up is a mistake. Trying to cover it up is stupid. As a navy officer, the engineer would tell me to assign my bust people to fix the air compressors because it was a matter of nuclear safety. After getting off watch I checked to see how they were doing. Two of three air compressors were still broken but the assigned personal were working on the ice machine in the wardroom to show me how to get the job done. That was stupid, I knew how to get the job done but more importantly I knew how to get the right job done.
I do understand a hostile work environment. Rod can understand how much trouble he would have been in if the reactor hand to scammed and ship towed back port.
When it comes to a hostile work environment, it is a problem when that prevents employees from reporting problems at nuke plants. I think the first line of defense for the safe operation of nuke plants. Bickering NRC commissioners is more like a soap opera.
I’m very curious: how could a fire in an operational NPP get out of control?
If you don’t maintain the state of the damage control equipment, then you can’t fight the fire. Even a small fire could grow and take out an entire ship. There is more hydraulics, compressed air, fuel, electricity, and stuff inside a ship to light it off like a roman candle if you can’t do anything about it. That’s why your DC equipment is your life and you train to fight fires and flooding like they are going out of style. We ran several fire drill’s per week because they are that important.
Check out the USS BONEFISH fire. Granted it was a Diesel boat, the risks are the same on nuclear ships. In their case it was a battery fire that took out the ship.
Thanks for the explanation, but I meant in a nuclear power plant on land, not in a ship. sorry.
Cal is correct, fire is a serious problem at any power plant including nukes.
Let start out by pointing out that solar PV systems have caused more than 50 home fires with no fire brigade.
The key to firefighting is putting out the fire before things that we normally think of as not combustible start oxidizing. The first concern is a fire in the control room. Most people in fires are killed by smoke inhalation. Nuke plants have a remote shutdown panel where the plant can be safely shutdown if the control room is evacuated.
Second is concern for fires in safety related systems. Think about the Browns Ferry fire which generated Appendix R issues. Fires starting in the cable spreading rooms and then spreading through a cable penetration through the wall then to another cable spreading room defeating separation is a real concern. EDGs can be the place the fires starts.
Finally nuke plants have turbine lube oil systems and transformer oil. We also have to consider a major fire caused by evil people land a jumbo jet full of fuel.
It is not a make believe issue but is certainly an issue misrepresented by anti-nuke. Jaczko did a good job explaining it.
@Kit P – while I fully agree that fire protection is important, I think you overstate the risk at nuclear plants. The fire at Browns Ferry happened while I was in high school and I am now a grandfather who has already retired from one career. Nuclear plant operators pay attention to protecting against fire and spend a significant amount of resources doing so, but Jaczko and his cronies think that the industry is still not doing enough.
In that video clip, Jaczko stated that fire is a major contributor to “core damage frequency”. The audience for whom he made that statement might understand that he was referring to a modeling term used in Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) and that it is a calculated number for hypothetical damage.
The reality is that there has not yet been a single instance anywhere in the world where an actual nuclear reactor core has been damaged by having a fire start somewhere outside of the core. (Please correct me if I am wrong. Actually, I am not sure why I issued that invitation, you love to correct me even when I am not wrong.)
In the modeling world, especially using simplified models of fire with a two layer assumption backed by something that Jaczko saw during a field trip, fire might contribute to damaging nuclear reactor cores. In the real world, no fire has ever contributed to core damage.
I would think that the risk of an out-of-control fire in a NPP is negligable. I work as a building systems engineer (HVAC) and building fire safety engineers work a few desk away from me. Designing buildings to have a low spread rate of any fire is generally a not a difficult challenge normally. (The difficulty usually appears when architects propose tall atriums in open connections with extensive open office plans etc.)
So I while I can see how a fire could *start* in an NPP in certain specific predictable places, I still cannot see how such a fire could become *out of control*.
So I would judge that to assume that the risk of an *out-of-control* fire in a NPP is significant is fear mongeringg and just adds extra costs to NPPs design and construction without any safety benefit.
If the risk of terrorist sabotage in a NPP can be limited and if the shell can withstand an accidental plane crash, then it is safe to assume that no fire will get out of control in a NPP. Correct?
Kit, my understanding is that Appendix R was written because of the Browns Ferry fire. That fire was a rather close call, as it caused the operators to not have control of nor know the position of a (likely significant) number of valves.
One key aspect of Appendix R is maintaining 20 feet of separation between the cables of 2 “trains” of safety-related equipment. Another aspect of it is the option of fire-wrapping cables, which is apparently really expensive, and can be difficult to implement if a plant has already previously been mostly built.
Fire protection requirements in nuclear power plants are pretty far from being trivial.
@Rod: As someone with a background in Nuclear Physics, I can decipher Jazcko’s abstract a bit; basically this is a mathematical treatmentment of elementary particle interactions. The idea is that this is a treatment of how the constituents of elementary particles – i.e., protons and neutrons (as well as more exotic forms of matter generally only observed in particle accelerators, e.g., pions, kaons, etc.) are constructed and how the “flavor” of particles comes to be. Much of this touches loosely on topics I used to study back in my own nuclear physics days.
All of this deals with phenomena at the sub-nuclear level; I was a nuclear physicist by trade rather than a high-energy physicist (yes, there is a difference) before I moved into nuclear engineering, but basically this pertains to issues well apart from the realm of controlled nuclear fission. As someone who’s actually made the jump from nuclear physics to nuclear engineering, I can say that while my physicist training gave me a reasonable background to comprehend the basic principles of nuclear fission, there is a substantial amount to be understood beyond the physics of fission itself – including radiologcial shielding, thermal hydraulics, criticality, and other reactor physics concepts.
In other words, understanding the theory of combustion does not a master mechanic make – and I say this from experience.
I could add to this. The issue at heart is that while we have a fundamental theory of strong interactions called QuantumChromoDynamics (QCD), we can only get useful results from this theory for very specific cases (basically in cases of extreme momentum transfer).
To describe many features of low energy nuclear physics – such as hadronic masses, spin/magnetic moments, features of excited states etc. – one has to resort to some sort of effective theory. Jaczko’s thesis is an attempt to expand upon one of many such models.
I agree with the above observation that a training in nuclear/particle physics can provide a good foundation for grasping core concepts of nuclear engineering, but there is much more to learn to be a useful contributor to NE problems than understanding the underlying physics.
> In other words, understanding the theory of combustion does not a master mechanic make – and I say this from experience.
In Arthur C. Clarke’s “Song Of Distant Earth” he mentions how the engineers of a “ark ship”‘s star drive which literally taps the energy that creates empty space don’t know beans about the deep esoteric physics that make it go, but know enough how to handle and harness it, like utility linemen might likely not know the states and mass of electrons, but know adequately enough how keep the juice flowing (ACC’s words).
A great book.
I hope the objective of removing Jackzo is achieved. He has stirred a bipartisan hornets’ nest to have his 4 fellow commissioners – 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans – come out publicly in opposition to him.
Even more than that, it would be good to see Markey take a direct hit below the waterline in the nuclear area, to learn him to stay out of matters that don’t involve him or his constituents (except for possibly supporting some of their jobs), and for Reid to be learnt that just because (some, many) of his constituents have a problem with a certain proposed installation, it does not give him a license to disrupt an entire industry to make a point.
Even if Jackzo stays, he’ll be partially rendered impotent to a degree because of the possibility of a. further episodes of controversy leading to bad press for the Administration causing them to apply direct pressure to him, and b. simple legislative action can take all power out of the chairmanship and give it to the Commission proper. Attaching a simple rider to a convenient spending bill delegating the Chairman’s powers over the budget, etc. to the entire Commission could accomplish the same goals as removing Jackzo.
Rod Adams wrote:
Aside. I strongly disagree with the analysis offered by my friend at Idaho Samizdat. The small number of voters in Nevada are not worth the political cost of tying up the agency that regulates a industry that provides tens of thousands of jobs and produces 800 billion kilowatt hours of low marginal cost, emission free electricity every year. End Aside.
Rod, ethically you are correct in your analysis. However, I believe that Dan Yurman at Idaho Samizdat has the political calculus correct.
Classically, politics is identified as a branch of ethics, but we have all seen how poor is that identification given the workings of certain parts of our government.
While Nevada itself does not have that many electoral votes, shutting down Yucca Mountain was a wider appeal to “green” voters, of which many refuse to see the environmental benefits of nuclear power, or have romantic notions of “returning to nature”.
Dan Yurman’s thesis is that Mr. Jaczko was appointed to shut down Yucca Mountain, and then keep his head down. The political calculation here was to get those “green” voters, but not cause any real damage, because Yucca Mountain not operating was simply a continuation of the status quo. Unfortunately, the latter part of the political calculation failed. Mr. Jaczko was unable to keep his head down, especially as the events at Fukushima unfolded. Thus we find ourselves in a bad situation for nuclear energy, where real harm is being done, due to a political calculation gone wrong.
But even if this analysis is wrong, the way forward it still the same — replace Mr. Jaczko as the head of the NRC.
While the grievances from the four Commissioners are not partisan or politically motivated, The members of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee certainly are taking very partisan positions, with the Republican members on the attack and the Democrats on the defense of Jackzo, primarily by trying to distract with comments about how “dangerous” nuclear is and the NRC has made mistakes in the past.
Issa has even had to put the hammer down to keep the Democrats from turning the hearing into a hearing on nuclear safety.
So far, the hearing has been pretty black and white along party lines.
And … of course … as usual, Kucinich is off in conspiracy-theory land. He accuses the four commissioners of being captured by the industry, which wants to get rid of the Chairman. Then when Apostolakis indicates that he is insulted by the insinuation, Kucinich takes it as evidence that his conspiracy theory is right.
What a nutjob!
Are you claiming the regulatory capture is impossible in the US? If that’s the case, do you have any rational basis for such a claim?
Or do you think that Kuchinich got confused about who are the captors and who are the captured? In that case, we have to ask why no one raises the possibility that Jaczko is captured by some other industry? Without that, the entire exchange looks like a little theater aimed at deceiving the viewers about who is captured by whom… conspiracy and all that 😉
I’m just saying that I’m not into conspiracy theories, whereas Rep. Kucinich seems to spend his entire life mired in them.
In any other congressional district, Kucinich would be safely locked away in an insane asylum. In Cleveland, however, they send him to Congress where he can become a ranking member of a government oversight committee.
What a world!
In this case, I agree about Kucinich… but I see nothing exceptional in the posturing and nonsense of one representative. Kucinich is the molehill, he does it about 50% of the time. He looks odd only because he is next to a mountain of representatives who talk nonsense 90% of the time (however, one needs above-school education in economics, law and history in order to see it).
The other interesting point is the irrational fear of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist”. The fact that there are conspiracy theorists who get it wrong doesn’t mean that there is no conspiracy. The fact that someone drives badly doesn’t mean that driving is a shameful act.
Curiously, there are plenty of conspiracy theorists who consistently, as IF deliberately, spread ridiculous or at least grossly inaccurate conspiracy theories. Kucinich did it too – WITHOUT proper opposition or a discussion of the influences of lobbyists and interest groups.
I think we should examine the evidence in depth before hiding in the shell of irrational taboos and groupthink.
@Sam B – you might enjoy George Carlin’s take on the accusation of “conspiracy theorist”. Sadly amusing. I cannot tell you how many times I have been given that moniker simply by suggesting that coal, oil, gas, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuel advocates (along with their investors/bankers) have a vested interest in hamstringing nuclear energy development.
I like to plant the mental image of nuclear energy as a Gulliver waking up on the beach in the land of the Lilliputians. As soon as nukes figure out that the ties that bind are just threads, watch out.
Ah yes … just because I’m paranoid, that doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get me. Is that it?
I this case, however, no conspiracy theory is necessary to understand where Jaczko is coming from. His only two jobs before being appointed to the NRC were working for Senator Reid, whose ambition is to get rid of Yucca Mountain, and Congressman Markey, whose ambition is to get rid of nuclear power in the US altogether. You’d have to be blind not to see where Jaczko’s loyalties lie.
Jaczko’s position is ultimately ideological, regardless who is paying or contributing to the campaigns of his political patrons.
@Brian – I was with you all the way up until you gave Jaczko credit for being ideological. Exactly what ideology are you thinking he follows other than raw thirst for power and/or money?
Ah yes… hitting the cliche button when one lacks arguments isn’t exactly a rational or courageous act.
Yes, we can explain every single little appointment, disappointment or failure with someone else’s “ambition”, “ideology” or jock itch for that matter.
First, while such events have some small finite probability IN ISOLATION, the probability of all of them happening precisely so that a single, media-preferred outcome drags on for 30 years is practically infinitely small.
Second, the world ain’t driven by jock itch – it’s driven by interests, by group interests, to be more precise. If public servants allow ambition or ideology to interfere with solid analysis for the good of the public, they commit a crime MORE SERIOUS than corruption, MORE SERIOUS than a conspiracy! Fancy occultism has no place in government, but somehow that’s all we get.
The US have been dragged into oil dependence, expensive energy, humongous trade imbalances, and even worse public and private debt. All of this is a direct result of regulations passed in the last 30 something years. The strangulation of nuclear energy is only one part of those regulations. According to you, the politicians did what they did without knowing? They got no personal benefits from proposing, defending and passing that sort of regulations? Without going into quantitative details, that seems a lot more improbable than the most ridiculous conspiracy theory.
Rod – My exact words were, “Jaczko’s position is ultimately ideological.” I didn’t say that Jaczko is ideological.
Personally, I suspect that Jaczko has only one interest, himself. Obviously, he wasn’t good enough as a theoretical physicist to actually go into the field, so he went into public policy. This is not an unusual career choice — the Union of Corrupt Scientists likes to hire guys like this.
Jaczko, however, was smart enough to hit on a good plan. He went to work for powerful members of Congress, and within six years of getting his degree, he was on the NRC! Compare that to how long it would have taken him to gain tenure if he had stayed in academia.
So Jaczko’s position, although certainly taken from his political patrons, is ultimately ideological. After watching the hearings, can you honestly say, Rod, that Jaczko’s actions and the defense of his actions are not driven by ideology? By the way, the position that nothing is safe enough is an ideological position.
Sam B – Your comment is so confused that I don’t know what to make of it.
All I can add is to point out that incompetence can case as much damage, if not more, than deliberate maliciousness.
L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs.
@Sam B – regulatory capture is certainly possible in the US. There is no better example than the goings on at the Minerals Management Service. I know it is hard for people to believe, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission really is an organization that is staffed mainly by some of the smartest, hardest working, highest integrity people in the US government. They take their responsibilities seriously. The nuclear industry itself is staffed mainly by similar people. (I am using slightly waffling terms because no population of human beings is ever perfect. There are always some who do not fit the mold all of the time and there are always some people who are generally high performers that can have bad days or bad months.)
I have raised the possibility that Jaczko has been captured by some other industry called politics, which has been captured by large corporate donors. In the energy world where nuclear competes, its $500,000 per quarter in lobbying expenses is peanuts compared to the money spent to promote wind, solar, natural gas, oil, and coal. Heck, nuclear might even fall behind geothermal in promotional lobbying investments.
Rod, I have no reason to doubt your assessment. It agrees with my general observation that conflicts of interest, incentives and opportunities for corruption are greatest for the elective positions, especially in the federal government. I’m well aware that the majority of government workers are people with high integrity and strong values. Because of them, the situation isn’t worse than it is.
Regulatory capture is an important topic, I’m glad that you aren’t shy of bringing it up. The big media isn’t going to do it, they have their meaningless cliches and slogans to swing around all day long. It’s full of cheesy talk show hosts who barely scratch the surface of the matters, replacing substance with circuses.
@Sam B – the people who know me can think of many adjectives to describe me and my behavior. Shy is one of the few that is almost never mentioned.
I believe that the advertiser supported media is just as vulnerable to capture as government regulators or elected officials. The same basic mechanism applies – they have been schooled against biting the hand that feeds them their most important stream of revenue.
My advantage over many commentators is that my wife and I live rather modestly and have both savings and a reliable stream of income that cannot be interrupted. I also have the advantage that millions of other Americans now have – we have risked our lives to protect the ideals on which America was founded. Why should we be shy about risking arguments or even job based retaliation for expressing our thoughts and suspicions about the people who seem to be pushing us in the wrong direction?
Rod, you’ve put in words some of my thoughts – better than I could have done it. I’m very happy and grateful that there are people like you.
I watched online quite a bit of the House Oversight Committee hearing.
This Committee has no power to affect Jaczko.
Maybe, maybe, even though this seems unlikely, the hearings will give Obama the political cover to get rid of Jazcko. Maybe he’d personally like to see him gone, but didn’t feel he could remove Jazcko previously without getting impugned as being “soft on the nuclear industry and safety”, but just maybe, with testimony from the 4 commissioners (if they don’t lose their spine and back down in fear of Jazcko), they can convince enough people that Jazcko really needs to go, that Obama can remove him with minimal backlash from the Democratic base.
Well, we can hope anyhow.
If a Republican wins the White House next year, I think we can be sure that Jaczko will no longer be Chairman of the NRC. This hearing probably guaranteed that.
Given the White House’s response earlier this week, however, I seriously doubt that Obama is going to do anything about the Commission.
Are the hearing video(s) going to be archived online (youtube, cspan, house.gov, etc) for time-shifted viewing, so I can watch it maybe over the weekend?
The video’s on CSPAN.
Silly, I mean stupid, decision in a world where we compete globally and where the financial structure of a deal prevents construction of a nuclear plant in the US. We live in the dark ages:
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it would suspend review of the non-foreign ownership requirements of the proposed new reactors at South Texas because Japanese multinational Toshiba effectively controls the project.
Wake up NRC, who do you think will operate the plant ? The Finns ?
Politically savvy ? If I was in this game, I would milk the fact that Dr J was abusive to female co workers and made some of them cry.
I mean, in public office, that could stick to the wall.
Senator Boxer, what’s your stand on this ?
The Senate gets its chance tomorrow at the Environment and Public Works Committee. 10:00 ET on C-Span3.
Can’t wait to see Boxer’s act. She will disappoint for sure.
I don’t understand the way that partisanship is so widely accepted and allowed to get in the way of matters as important as the nuclear energy industry. The idea that it is common knowledge (which amounts to hearsay) that Jaczko got his job because it was payback for Reid helping Obama get elected is fraudulent. Nobody wants to nail Reid or Jaczko on those issues because it implicates Obama. In my mind someone should implicate Obama. What is the underlying statement by nobody here addressing the obvious? I take it as that sometimes we allow crooked behavior if it is a means to getting elected. It’s far worse than illegal drugs in sports or allowing the laws of other cultures that break our own laws to go unnoticed. Since it’s much harder fight the guys at the top does that mean you shouldn’t try? So I am directing this at anyone who accepts this well known corrupt deal that was made between Reid and Obama as fact.
Maybe the first thing Obama did when he took office should not have been to send Sir Winston Churchill’s bust back to England.
Now that was a State man.
Who was it again that said that the way Iraq was drawn in the early 1900’s would never work. Is it not that smart man, what’s its name again ? Winston who ?
I don’t understand the way that partisanship is so widely accepted and allowed to get in the way of matters as important as the nuclear energy industry. It seems to be common knowledge that Jaczko got his job because it was returning the favor to Reid for helping Obama get elected. But that act is fraudulent. Nobody wants to nail Reid or Jaczko on those issues because it implicates Obama. In my mind someone should implicate Obama. What is the underlying statement? By nobody here addressing the obvious it suggests that sometimes we allow crooked behavior in special circumstances. But in this case it’s far worse than illegal drugs in sports or allowing the laws of other cultures that break our own laws to go unnoticed. What’s the underlying message? Maybe that it is much harder to fight the guys at the top so we should be forgiven for not trying? I am directing this at anyone who accepts the well known corrupt deal that was made between Reid and Obama as fact. I suppose we avoid implicating the man who has the power to correct the problem. Again we see a reason to dislike the four year cycle for Presidents. These kind of issues die when the regime changes. And midterm elections get in the way of decision making too. Some have also suggested that Chu is also a puppet for people higher up. If anyone has an explanation as to why we should leave the guys at the top alone please share it.
Well, Chu has only about a year left, anyhow. Regardless of the results of next year’s election, he’s sure to be out. If Obama is elected, he will almost certainly reshuffle his staff and cabinet, as is common upon starting a second term. Chu really hasn’t been a very effective Secretary of Energy (his one major accomplishment is killing Yucca Mountain), and now with the Solyndra debacle hanging over the administration, I’m sure that nobody is real keen to keep him around.
Besides, after four years in the hot seat, most people want out.
I wanted Obama in power but now I see him as the lesser of two evils. (unless Ron Paul manages to rise in popularity) These days it’s become the way to go, I mean voting for people that don’t deserve it because they happen to be a better choice but not a good choice. I would like to know who else has won key positions because of owing favors to members turned supporters. Reid is another undeserving politician. How do we get rid of Reid? I don’t trust the man.
You mean short of assassination? 😉 Sorry, but the chance to get rid of Reid was passed up by the voters of Nevada over a year ago. He’s around for at least another five years.
If you’re looking for inspiration, however … if you remember The Godfather Part II, you might recall that the Corleones had an interesting way of dealing with a troublesome senator from Nevada.
Jon Huntsman is a new presidential candidate to watch for. Republican but supports climate change and is pro nuclear.
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