Republicans float bill to limit NRC chairman's authority

“The daily activities of the NRC shouldn’t be covert operations. The [bill] pulls open the curtain that has hidden numerous questionable NRC actions in the past,” Terry said in a statement on the bill. “Trust at the Commission has been broken, and it is time to restore it.”

The legislation would allow the NRC chairman to use his or her emergency authority only if there is “an imminent safety threat to a facility or materials licensed or regulated by the Commission” and if top national security officials verify the threat.

It would also ensure that commissioners have full access to “information relating to actions taken during the emergency.” In addition, the bill would require that commissioners are allowed to participate “in decisions that affect Commission actions and policies beyond the response to a particular emergency.”

Separately, the bill gives the commission 40 days to vote on whether to uphold a decision of the NRC’s licensing board.

Supporters of the long-delayed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository alleged that Jaczko delayed a vote on whether to uphold a decision by the licensing board, which had previously voted to stop the Energy Department from withdrawing the application for the project.

The commission ultimately split 2-2 on the issue, but NRC nonetheless said the administration could move forward with abandoning Yucca.

Terry told The Hill that the NRC is part of next year’s agenda for the committee, but cautioned that its not clear if the new bill specifically will move through the panel.

“It is certainly a preliminary agenda item to discuss,” he said in the Capitol.

He cast the measure as a common-sense set of reforms.

“This just kind of sets some procedures that you would think would have already been in existence, normal-course-of-business types of rules,” Terry said.

—Ben Geman contributed to this story.