Macfarlane Nominated by Obama for New Term as NRC Chief

U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Allison Macfarlane to a new term as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, less than a year after she took over the agency following her predecessor’s resignation.

Macfarlane, whose term expires on June 30, was chosen to serve a full five-year stint at the NRC, according to a White House statement yesterday. Her nomination requires confirmation by the Senate.

A geologist and environmental science professor, Macfarlane took over the agency in July after the resignation of Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who had been criticized by colleagues for his management style and for verbally abusing female employees.

Macfarlane, 49, was initially named to a one-year term. She said on March 12 she “would be most happy” to remain in the job if asked by Obama.

The NRC is considering a recommendation from its staff that utilities install radiation filters at 31 U.S. reactors in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. The commission on March 19 delayed action on the proposal, which may cost as much as $20 million per unit, and asked agency staff to consider other approaches.

Obama yesterday also nominated Fred Hochberg to a four-year term as head of the Export-Import Bank, the official export credit agency of the U.S. The bank helps finance the export of goods and services to international markets with working capital guarantees, export credit insurance, loan guarantees and direct loans to buyers.

Hochberg had been cited as a possible contender for the job of U.S. Trade Representative, which is currently vacant. Had he been nominated and confirmed as trade representative position, Hochberg would have been the first openly gay man to serve in a Cabinet-level position.

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