Obama nominates NRC commissioner opposed by Reid to another term

WASHINGTON ­- President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated nuclear engineer Kristine Svinicki to a second term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, posing a potential conflict with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid opposes another five-year term for Svinicki, contending that she "lied" to the Senate during her initial confirmation about the extent of her involvement in the Yucca Mountain Project while employed at the Department of Energy earlier in her career.

Reid declined to comment on Obama's renomination of Svinicki, a former policy adviser to Senate Republicans who is being supported by the GOP and by the nuclear power industry.

Several Democratic senators including Tom Carper of Delaware and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico also have endorsed the nominee.

Republicans pressed for a speedy confirmation for Svinicki, whose current term expires on June 30.

"She's an experienced and fair-minded regulator who deserves to be swiftly confirmed," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which would vote on Svinicki, said she was not ready to address it. The California Democrat has criticized Svinicki.

Obama agreed to renominate Svinicki after Senate Republicans began speaking out last month about Democrats holding back a qualified woman whom they characterized as a whistle-blower.

Republicans charged Reid was opposing Svinicki because she, with three other commissioners, complained last year to the White House about the management practices of NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, a former Reid adviser.

Now that Obama has sent the nomination to the Senate, "it is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's turn to do the right thing, follow President Obama's cue, and allow for Commissioner Svinicki's swift confirmation," Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce panel said.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.