Sen. David Vitter doesn't want Sen. Harry Reid to stack the Nuclear Regulatory Commission against using Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as a waste repository.
The Louisiana Republican, who is the ranking member of his party on the Senate Environment and Public Works Panel, which oversees the nation’s nuclear facilities, opposes President Obama's nomination of Jeff Baran to fill a full term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Baran, who had been serving a temporary term, is a former top aide to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a staunch opponent of nuclear power.
Vitter believes Baran’s nomination will increase the changes that Reid ally Stephen Burns will be nominated the next NRC chairman.
Reid, of Nevada, has only a few remaining weeks before he loses the Senate gavel to Republicans. He has long fought efforts to keep the nuclear waste dump out of Yucca Mountain, a remote desert area 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Confirming Baran before the end of his rein as majority leader is likely a top priority for Reid and would be fairly easy to accomplish, since new Senate rules allow Democrats to confirm Obama’s appointees with just 51 votes.
Vitter is calling for a full committee hearing on Baran, who he said is inexperienced and only visited a nuclear energy plant for the first time last summer.
“Baran clearly lacks the experience,” Vitter said.
Vitter said he believes Reid is backing Baran, “likely due to the role he is expected to play in continuing to undermine the Yucca Mountain project.”