New inspector general confirmed for NRC

May 7, 2020, 2:28PMNuclear News

Robert Feitel, speaking at his December 3, 2019, nomination hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.

The Senate voted unanimously 87–0 on May 4 to confirm Robert Feitel as the inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The position had been vacant since the end of 2018, when the NRC’s longtime IG Hubert T. Bell retired.

A Department of Justice attorney, Feitel was nominated for the job by President Trump in October last year, and in December he was approved by the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, also by unanimous vote.

Why it matters: "His nomination comes at a pivotal time for both the nuclear industry and the commission,” stated Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, just prior to the vote. “Some utilities are seeking to operate their nuclear plants for 20 more years, while others are shutting down. They’re shutting their reactors before their licenses even expire. The commission is also preparing to license new nuclear technologies that will be essential to our clean energy future. This time of unprecedented activity requires a fully staffed and a fully functional agency. The commission needs an inspector general to promote efficiency and effectiveness at the commission.” Barrasso added, “Mr. Feitel is a man of character, whose commitment to upholding justice makes him an ideal candidate for the position.”

Background: Feitel entered federal service in 1995 as an in-house attorney for the FBI, later becoming an assistant U.S. attorney, where he worked on matters ranging from bank fraud to violent crimes. Most recently, Feitel served as a trial attorney in the DOJ’s Capital Case Section. In that role, he was an advisor to the U.S. attorney general.

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