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Red Alert: Don’t Confirm Allison Macfarlane as NRC Head


On May 25, President Obama announced that he was nominating George Mason University Environmental Sciences Associate Professor Allison Macfarlane to succeed the disgraced Greg Jaczko as Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). As one of the latest complaints about Jaczko had involved improper behavior towards female members of the NRC staff, the administration’s decision to replace him with a woman found approval from various quarters.

However the more serious problem concerning Jaczko, a former aide to Representative Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and Senator Harry Reid (D., Nev.), was that he was an anti-nuclear fanatic who lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings to conceal his intent to use his office to attempt at all costs to prevent the establishment of a secure spent nuclear fuel repository under the Nevada desert. Regardless of what she tells Congress, an examination of Macfarlane’s publications and connections amply demonstrates that she is fully committed to following in Jaczko’s footsteps on this key policy issue.

Allison Macfarlane is the author of the book Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High Level Nuclear Waste. This book, which is endorsed by antinuclear activist Victor Gilinsky, makes the absurd argument that rather than risk unknown consequences 10,000 years in the future should geological conditions affecting remote underground desert repositories change, that high level nuclear waste should continue to be stored in cooling ponds adjacent to nuclear power plants located near heavily populated urban and suburban areas. Thus for Macfarlane, as for Jaczko, the clear goal is to not to make nuclear power as safe as possible — which is the purpose of the NRC — but to make it as unsafe as possible — which is the agenda of those seeking to shut down the nuclear industry.

Macfarlane’s fundamental commitments are thus directly at odds with the purpose of the organization she is being nominated to lead. In addition, Macfarlane has no experience or education in engineering, and is also technically unqualified to lead an organization whose purpose is to intelligently regulate the nuclear industry.

Beyond this, Macfarlane’s bias is also shown by her role as a member of the Science and Security Board of the deeply antinuclear Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Quite understandably, her nomination was instantly hailed by Jaczko’s former sponsors, Reid and Markey.

America does not need a nicer version of Greg Jaczko as head of the NRC. The nation’s effort to create safe and secure nuclear waste storage has been brought to a dead halt because Congressional Republicans fell for Jaczko’s transparently dishonest protestations of objectivity. They should not make the same mistake with Macfarlane. Her nomination should be categorically rejected

— Dr.Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of The Case for Mars and Energy Victory. His latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism has just been published by Encounter Books.


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