Anti-nuclear group finds little hope in NRC, presidential race

Group members met with legislators on Thursday and held a rally at the Capitol. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein spoke during the Friday protest at the NRC’s Rockville, Md., headquarters.

Eliot Brenner, an NRC spokesman, told The Hill on Friday that the agency had been aware of the protest for several weeks.

“The NRC is an independent regulatory agency whose 4,000 dedicated employees have but one job — to protect people and the environment — and we always welcome hearing from all interested parties,” Brenner said.

Leonardi said the group wants to immediately decommission the nation’s 23 Mark 1 reactors, which are the same variety that melted down at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011. It wants to then work on a complete phaseout of nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy has picked up a bit of steam in Congress. Members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources are increasingly optimistic about its chances of pushing through a nuclear waste management bill next session.

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), an industry group, also is bullish on Congress passing a nuclear waste management bill next year.

NEI also is pleased with where nuclear sits in presidential politics. NEI said Monday that it feels Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney are both champions for nuclear power.

Leonardi said the presidential race offers little hope for nuclear energy opponents. He noted Obama has a strong relationship with Exelon, a Chicago-based utility that owns the nation’s largest nuclear fleet. He added that Romney also supports nuclear power.

“It leaves us out of the game by the two major parties,” Leonardi said. “They’re not listening to us.”