You are hereHuffington Post: NRC 'Coup' Leader, Bill Magwood, Consulted For Fukushima Parent Company

Huffington Post: NRC 'Coup' Leader, Bill Magwood, Consulted For Fukushima Parent Company

-By Ryan Grim

December 12, 2011- WASHINGTON -- Bill Magwood, the man at the center of an effort to overthrow the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and his most likely successor if the move is successful, served as a consultant for Tepco, the Japanese company that owns the Fukushima nuclear power plant, according to information provided by Magwood as part of his nomination and confirmation process, which was obtained by The Huffington Post.

On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a letter signed by Magwood and three other commissioners attacking the panel's chairman, Gregory Jaczko, setting off a firestorm in the energy industry. Issa and the four commissioners framed the dispute as personal and managerial, but emails released by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) show a political and ideological battle underway over post-Fukushima safety standards.

Issa and Markey appeared opposite one another on MSNBC on Monday, continuing to debate whether the issue is one of personality or the politics of nuclear safety. Magwood's previously unreported relationship to Japan's nuclear industry, via the firm he founded and ran, Advanced Energy Strategies, sheds new light on that debate.

On Saturday morning, just hours after the dueling release of documents, utility lobbyists began reaching out to Democrats on key committees, urging them not to back Jaczko. "It's obvious these guys are all in on this coup. They've been whining about Jaczko, particularly after Japan, and what he's been doing since then, consistently," said a senior congressional aide on the receiving end of the lobbying push, who is supportive of Jaczko but wanted to remain anonymous so as not to alienate the industry.

On Sunday, Dale Klein, the commissioner who stepped down to make room for Magwood, suggested to Politico that Jaczko doesn't need to be removed from the panel but could instead be demoted by Obama; a new chairman from among the existing members would then be named to take his place.

On Monday, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the lobby for the nuclear energy industry, issued a statement expressing confidence that Congress and the White House "will take the steps necessary to ensure that the NRC is an efficient, effective regulator."

Jaczko isn't named in the statement, but is clearly the target. "The issue that is of most concern is the question of a chilled working environment at the agency, including the possibility of staff intimidation and harassment," the lobby wrote. "The NRC functions best when it has a full complement of five capable commissioners to provide guidance and direction to the NRC staff."

The critique echoes the letter from the four commissioners, who charged that Jaczko is "causing serious damage" and has "intimidated and bullied" staff, citing a "chilled work environment."