The controversial chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has resigned amid a stepped-up investigation by House Republicans.
Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s resignation came two weeks after House government oversight chairman Rep. Darrell Issa suggested that he had lied to the committee in a December hearing called to investigate charges that Jaczko had abused his staff.
“Making false statements to Congress is a serious matter,” said Issa’s May 7 letter to Jaczko.
“The committee has afforded you ample opportunity to clarify your [December] testimony, only to be met with silence… Your failure to respond will be taken into consideration as the Committee evaluates further investigative actions,” the letter said.
Jaczko was appointed chairman of the commission by Obama in 2009, after working as a congressional staffer for Democrats Rep. Ed Markey and Sen. Harry Reid.
The resignation was applauded by Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, the senior Republican on the Democratic-led Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
“Throughout his time at the NRC, it was abundantly clear that Chairman Jaczko used his office to undermine the NRC to the point that all four of his fellow commissioners wrote to the President to ask for assistance as a last resort… the NRC can focus on its mission of safety without the distractions of Jaczko’s inappropriate behavior,” said Inhofe.
The resignation is a setback for anti-nuclear groups, and for Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, who is a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and a prominent advocate for curbs on nuclear power.
“Greg has led a Sisyphean fight against some of the nuclear industry’s most entrenched opponents of strong, lasting safety regulations, often serving as the lone vote in support of much-needed safety upgrades recommended by the Commission’s safety staff,” said a May 21 statement from Markey’s office.
During his time as chairman, Jaczko effectively shut down the nation’s primary waste-storage site at Yucca Mountain, Nev. The underground and secure site is designed to store nuclear waste now stored at may sites around the country.
“Greg’s departure is an immeasurable loss for the Commission. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” said Markey.