John Wheeler who blogs at This Week in Nuclear started a petition on Change.org titled President Barack Obama: Remove Gregory Jaczko from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Here is the description from the “why this is important” tab on the petition page.
Gregory Jaczko, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has lost the confidence of the American people and should be removed from the Commission.
Mr. Jaczko’s actions have created a dysfunctional organization that is not in the best interests of the nation. This failure in effectiveness is most recently illustrated by a letter sent from the remaining commissioners (two from each political party) to the White House complaining that Jaczko’s bullying and heavy-handed tactics have created a chilled work environment at the NRC.
These assertions follow an inspector general’s report released last June that said Jaczko intimidated staff members who disagreed with him and withheld information from members of the commission to gain their support. The report also said several high-ranking employees at the independent agency complained that Chairman Jaczko delayed and hindered their work on important projects.
An informed, knowledgeable, and unbiased Nuclear Regulatory Commission is paramount to the continued effectiveness of this important agency. An organization in which other esteemed Commissioners and senior staffers are unable to express their informed professional opinions without fear of intimidation can not meet the NRC’s mission of nuclear safety and security.
As such, we respectfully request that President Barack Obama immediately remove Gregory Jaczko from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Please join me, John, and 37 (as of a few minutes ago) other people in signing the petition. Do not let the Washington DC politicians turn this into a partisan issue; it is all about ensuring that the people who make decisions about nuclear energy regulations in the United States are competent professionals who carry out the full mission of their agency and do not seek to further the pre-existing agendas of their political patrons.
As a reminder, here is the NRC mission statement:
The mission of the NRC is to license and regulate the Nation’s civilian use of byproduct, source, and special nuclear materials to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, promote the common defense and security, and protect the environment.
Update (Added at 7:00 am December 12, 2011) There are some comments on this post that I believe are worthy of promotion to the front page of the blog.
Submitted on 2011/12/12 at 12:23 AM
Sadly, I’m afraid that this petition misses the mark. I seriously doubt that President Obama has sufficient justification to remove Jaczko from the Commission. Thus, even if the petition were to garner enough signatures to get noticed (which is doubtful), it is likely to still fall on deaf ears because of the unrealistic demands that were made.
On the other hand, Obama can surely and most easily force Jaczko out of his current position by appointing someone else to head the Commission, just as he forced Dale Klein out of that role. Unlike Klein, I doubt that Jaczko would resign from the Commission after being forced out. Nevertheless, this won’t matter. In his near seven-year term at the NRC, Jaczko has almost always been the outlier — the lone minority vote — but as a mere Commissioner he was kept in check by the rest of the Commission. It wasn’t until he was appointed to the chairmanship that he was capable of wielding sufficient power to make a difference and do some damage.
Thus, if you want action, you should focus on eliminating his status as chairman.
Is there any way that the petition can be amended to give it a more realistic goal?
Here is my response to that suggestion.
While you might be right, I have concluded that Greg Jaczko has engaged in a sufficient number of documented violations of federal law to be removed for cause. He violated the energy reorganization act by assuming dictatorial command of the NRC based on an event that was not at a facility licensed by the US NRC. He ignored the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and purposely starved the license review effort for Yucca Mountain of funds. He has also established a hostile work environment and harassed his employees on numerous occasions. I have been given enough management training to know that several of the situations documented in the IG report – but not officially declared as “findings” – merit serious additional investigation under federal worker protection laws.
Feel free to start another petition if you disagree with me, but Mr. Jaczko’s inexperience and groupthink mentality has created a situation where he is in serious hot water. He and any lawyers that he hires should recognize that he would be getting off lightly by simply being asked to resign to find another job.
My standards for management and leadership competence were pretty firmly set in my 33 years in the US naval service, where I read numerous reports of the reliefs of commanding officers for cause. We give those individuals extraordinary decision making authority and make them responsible for billions of dollars worth of assets. They make life and death decisions. The people under their command are expected to follow orders – almost without question unless the order obviously violates the law or safety regulations.
However, when commanding officers screw up, the Navy takes no prisoners. A commanding officer can lose his job within minutes when he has lost the confidence of his or her superiors.
As John Wheeler says above – this is not about politics. I am a bleeding heart liberal who has voted for Democrats hundreds of times. (I am not registered with either party.) I am simply adamant that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should be staffed by competent regulators and run by competent commissioners who clearly follow the law, adhere to the principles of good regulation, and recognize that the mission of the NRC is to enable the safe and effective use of nuclear materials to support the common defense and protect the environment.
The United States cannot allow the continued service of an appointed commissioner who has proven that he will abuse the extraordinary powers of the Commission in a planned effort to tie the nuclear industry up in knots so tight that nuclear power generation capacity actually shrinks instead of steadily growing to help meet the power needs of the most important nation on earth. Jaczko has a few powerful political patrons, but those friends have less power than he (or you) believes they do. They are merely individual Senators or Congressmen who are not representing the best interests of the entire country.
(With regard to the statement above about the US being the most important nation on earth, I am nationalistic, but nationalistic about the America I swore to serve – the one whose ideals are embodied in documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with all of its Amendments. My patriotism received a booster shot yesterday with a visit to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA with my wife and my mother, who shared stories of friends and mentors who were there when the Allies stormed the beaches to restore freedom to Europe. She also talked about her late second husband who was a major on Patton’s staff and her aunt, an ambulance driver who also drove for Eisenhower for several months.)
Note: Petition signature total is now 56. We only have 9,944 left to go in order to reach the minimum standard for delivery to the White House. There is a hearing on December 14 – wouldn’t it be great to reach the total by then? End Update of 7:00 am on December 12, 2011
Bloomberg Businessweek – (December 12, 2011, 3:35 AM EST) NRC Commissioners Have ‘Grave Concerns’ With Chairman Jaczko