Thoroughly assessing events and improving nuclear safety is a hallmark of the U.S. nuclear industry and the NRC. This watchful eye is focused beyond domestic events and broader than just nuclear events, as evidenced by the security improvements derived from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. This vigilant attention toward improving nuclear safety is the chief reason why our nuclear industry and regulatory system is considered the gold standard world-wide. 

The regulatory requirements the NRC recently put in place are the result of a systematic evaluation of what lessons Fukushima can teach us here in the U.S.  The NRC has prioritized what is most important to safety and is proceeding to implement the highest priority changes first, while research continues on longer-term issues. This is not a fast process, but it is critical to ensuring that changes are not just being made, but that they are the right changes with the highest safety benefits. 

Reflecting back on what happened in Japan, it is important to remember that the news coverage of the 24,000 dead or missing as the result of the earthquake and tsunami was often overshadowed by minute-by-minute coverage of this nuclear incident. Our sympathy for those who perished, and those who still struggle, is a reminder that we need to have balance in our reaction to the nuclear accident itself.

At the end of the day, the U.S. needs and benefits from clean, reliable, affordable electricity provided by nuclear energy. We can take comfort from the industry and the NRC’s assurances, not just that our plants are safe today, but that they are working constantly to keep them safe and make them safer.

Rep. Upton (R-Mich.) is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.) is ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.