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Hanson confirmation tea leaves

Apr 17, 2024
Illustration of a skyline showing a nuclear plant on a waterfront with emissions from the towers only visible in the water's reflection.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Christopher Hanson looks to have a relatively smooth path to Senate confirmation, but a couple of issues could trip him up.

Why it matters: Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito will likely drive how Republicans view Hanson's renomination. She lobbed criticism and praise at him during his confirmation hearing today.

Friction point: Capito focused her questions on NRC telework policies and his vote to reverse previously issued license renewals.

  • Regarding the latter, Hanson told Capito: "The decision to overturn a previous commission decision was not taken lightly at all. It was my firm belief at the time, and it continues to be … that the agency and by extension our licensees faced significant legal risk."

Yes, but: Senators from both parties commended Hanson for commissioners' recent revisions to its Part 53 rulemaking, which could help speed licensing for advanced reactors.

Zoom in: Hanson said the Senate's ADVANCE Act is a "very beneficial piece of legislation" — particularly its provisions to bolster the NRC's workforce.

  • Capito, Chair Tom Carper and their House counterparts essentially have a deal in place on that bill that they hope to attach to larger legislation.

What's next: After his potential next five-year term, Hanson said, he wants to see the NRC reach "repeatability on licensing reviews for new technologies."

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