House GOP scuttles face-off with outgoing nuke agency chief

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans have shelved a planned showdown this week with outgoing Democratic Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko.

The GOP, citing upcoming Senate action on the embattled Jaczko’s replacement and the re-nomination of Republican NRC member Kristine Svinicki, are postponing the May 31 hearing with all five NRC commissioners.

“Given the swift movement on nominations and the apparent wind down of Chairman Jaczko’s current tenure at NRC, we’ve decided to pause until there is more clarity on the chairmanship of the NRC. We welcome the recent signals coming from the White House and Senate that the re-nomination of Kristine Svinicki and the closeout of the Jaczko era will be fast tracked,” said Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and other top Republicans on the panel in a joint statement.

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Jaczko has long been in the cross-hairs of Republicans for reasons including his support for White House efforts to scrap longstanding plans to store high-level waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain and allegations of bullying behavior as chairman, which Jaczko has denied.

President Obama last week nominated George Mason University Professor Allison Macfarlane to replace Jaczko atop the agency that oversees the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) signaled that she’ll move ahead with the nominations in tandem, vowing to hold a joint hearing next month.

“We welcome the recent signals coming from the White House and Senate that the re-nomination of Kristine Svinicki and the closeout of the Jaczko era will be fast tracked. The committee looks forward to rescheduling the hearing when the commission is whole with a new chairman and four commissioners seated, which will allow for a thoughtful discussion on the future of the NRC and examining lessons learned,” Upton and other senior Republicans said Tuesday.