Washington, D.C., May 21, 2012 — Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has resigned his post.
In announcing his departure, Jaczko said he had an incredibly productive three years running the NRC, but now wishes to work on public safety through other avenues. His resignation takes effect upon the confirmation of the next person to fill the position.
Jaczko was sworn in as NRC commissioner January 21, 2005. He took the role of NRC chairman May 13, 2009. The NRC chairman serves as the agency’s principal executive and its official public spokesperson. A total of four new nuclear reactors were granted licenses from Jaczko’s NRC, although Jaczko himself did not vote for their approval.
During his tenure, Jaczko focused on nuclear safety, and public transparency, but his management style as well as his handling of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository were criticized by other NRC commissioners from both political parties.
A former adviser to Sen. Harry Reid, a powerful Nevada Democrat, Jaczko helped Reid and Energy Secretary Stephen Chu deliver on their promise to end consideration of Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as a site where the nation’s nuclear waste could be stored long term.
Jaczko also saw his agency through the nuclear disaster in Japan at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant, the worst such accident since Chernobyl.
In February 2012, Jaczko unexpectedly cast the lone dissenting vote against the approval of the first combined operating license for a pair of nuclear reactors after initially supporting the plant expansion at Southern Co.’s Alvin P. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant. At the time, he said he could not vote for more nuclear power plants in the U.S. as though the Fukushima disaster had never happened.
The licenses, approved against Jaczko’s vote, were the first new nuclear licenses approved in the U.S. for about 30 years.
Jaczko’s term as commissioner was due to end in about 13 months. The position is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the president. A Senate confirmation is also required. With the White House up for grabs and the balance of the Senate also in question, it is unclear how or when a replacement could be chosen.