Matthew Marzano is beginning a year of service in Washington, D.C., as the 2022 Glenn T. Seaborg Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow, and he is excited about bringing his nuclear power experience to the policy-making process.
“I am most looking forward to the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and the conduct of business on Capitol Hill. Oftentimes we are presented a picture of a dysfunctional Congress through the media, but I’ve gathered through the orientation process and congressional interviews that collaboration is alive and well, especially in the area of clean energy,” Marzano said.
ANS announced Marzano’s selection as Congressional Fellow in August. After participating in a September orientation program sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Marzano decided to take a position with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He and his wife relocated to the D.C. area in December ahead of the January 3 start of his yearlong fellowship term.
A fitting choice: For Marzano, taking a position with the Environment and Public Works Committee was an fitting choice. “With jurisdiction over nonmilitary nuclear energy, the work of the committee is extremely relevant to my previous experience in the commercial sector,” Marzano said. “Typically, the work of the committee is confined to issues within its jurisdiction, which will allow me to remain focused on nuclear policy discussions. Being on a committee also presents the best opportunity to witness the legislative process, as all bills that make it to the Senate floor must make it out of the committee.” Marzano will be joining the committee’s majority staff, working for EPW chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.).
Build back better? While his work will be directed by the priorities of Senator Carper, Marzano can predict that he will be working on provisions to support the U.S. nuclear fleet and advanced reactor deployment.
“Those paying close attention to debate on the reconciliation package, known as the Build Back Better bill, are familiar with the impact of a 50-50 Senate,” Marzano said. “Any legislation that extends beyond a budgetary nature will require 60 votes to pass. Given the current political climate, from the outside it would appear that achieving consensus on any issue would be difficult, but the recent infrastructure bill was passed with bipartisan support.”
The bipartisan infrastructure bill contained important nuclear-related provisions, and the reconciliation package contains additional support. “It is expected that the reconciliation package will pass, but there is a chance it will not, and some of those provisions would have to be revisited,” Marzano said. “Gaining greater insight into how these aspects of the political process can impact policy making is a part of what I’m excited to learn more about during my fellowship term.
“Also, with two commissioner vacancies at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there is an opportunity to participate in confirmation hearings to fully staff the NRC. Furthermore, oversight of the NRC’s progress in advanced reactor licensing will be an important nuclear-related component of the committee’s work.”
Career history: Since 2018, Marzano has worked for Exelon Generation, most recently as a senior reactor operator at Exelon’s Braidwood nuclear power plant in Braidwood, Ill. Pivoting from a position in a control room in the largest nuclear fleet in the country, Marzano knows he can deliver a one-of-a-kind message on nuclear power in D.C.
“Preserving the existing fleet of reactors in the United States is essential to meeting near-term carbon-emission targets, and the deployment of next-generation reactor designs will be transformative to achieving deep decarbonization across multiple economic sectors,” Marzano said. “With this understanding, the conversation can shift toward how we accomplish this.”
Marzano joined ANS in 2008 and began his career at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in 2012, supporting the training mission of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program as a reactor operations instructor and nuclear plant engineer. In 2015, he moved to South Carolina Electric & Gas, where he spent two years supporting construction activities and qualifying as a senior reactor operator for the twin AP1000 reactor expansion project at the Summer nuclear power plant. Marzano holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida.