President Barack Obama is proposing that Jeffrey Baran, who he nominated for the Nuclear Regulatory Comission, should continue on the commission until June 2018 following the departure of Allison Macfarlane. However, the Republicans are not happy with the proposal and now Republican Senator David Vitter and Democrat Barbara Boxer are locked in a heated battle centered on Baran.
"There are major concerns, particularly about the NRC nominee," Vitter said. “He has no technical or scientific background. He visited his first nuclear plant this summer. Given that, and given that there is no precedent anywhere that I can find for a four-year nomination to the NRC not to have a nomination hearing before the committee, all we are asking for is a normal, routine nomination hearing.”
However, Boxer claims that Vitter’s request is nothing but a delaying tactic and that they already had a hearing when Baran first joined the commission. “What we are doing is putting him in a different seat on the same commission that has a different expiration date. He has already had a hearing, and Senator Vitter asked 56 questions,” Boxer explained. While Senators Boxer and Vitter had their arguments regarding EPA regulations in the past, the two did work together in the Environment and Public Works Committee where they managed to pass several bills.
Boxer made the news recently after she spearheaded a campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline, which aims to carry oil from Canada to the United States. The bill effectively died on Tuesday, November 18, after the Senate blocked a measure that would enable the pipeline to be built. Republicans have argued that the pipeline will be able to generate jobs. However, they weren’t able to get the votes necessary to have the bill push through.
Senator Boxer contended that the pipeline will be a massive environmental hazard and will ultimately make conditions even worse.