Controversial NRC Pick Sails

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William Magwood, Barack Obama’s controversial pick to serve on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a member of our list of worst nominees, was supposed to spend some time in the hot seat during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. But the members of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee barely questioned Magwood about his lengthy resume working for nuclear interests and how that history would affect his ability to regulate the industry.

Magwood served as the head of the Office of Nuclear Energy within the Department of Energy from 1998 to 2005. But as I wrote when Magwood was nominated, he has also worked for Westinghouse, which makes nuclear reactors and has big business before the NRC. He has also worked as a private consultant for nuclear interests. The Project on Government Oversight, as well as other anti-nuclear and environmental groups, say Magwood’s boosterism for nuclear power should disqualify him from overseeing the industry.

One of the only senators to question Magwood directly about his work to promote nuclear power was the committee’s chair, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). But it wasn’t exactly what you would call a grilling.

“It is my firm opinion that the best service to the country and to the nuclear industry is to set a very, very high standard for safety and to do so in a way that the public has a great deal of confidence,” Magwood responded. He also told Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that he did not see any potential conflicts of interest over proposals expected to come before the NRC. No-one pressed him further.

Magwood and fellow Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominees George Apostolakis and William Ostendorff received hearty endorsement from both Republican and Democratic members of the panel. “It would be difficult for the president to find three better nominees,” said Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Even the panel’s more liberal members were equally enthusiastic about the nominees and their role in heralding a nuclear revival. “I’m a proponent of nuclear power,” said Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “I believe we stand on the cusp of a nuclear renaissance.”

Boxer said their nominations are expected to move forward later this month.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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