Skip to Main Content
Project on Government Oversight




POGO Opposes Nomination Of William Magwood For NRC

February 8, 2010 


The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is opposing President Obama’s nomination of William Magwood for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Along with two other of the President’s nominees to the NRC, Mr. Magwood will come before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for a confirmation hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, February 9, 2010. In his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a plan to build a new generation of nuclear power reactors. POGO does not take a stance on nuclear power, but does strongly believe that the regulatory body that licenses and inspects nuclear power reactors should be independent, active, and unconflicted.  Mr. Magwood does not satisfy those key criteria.

“As a result of our investigation and given his more than a dozen years promoting nuclear power, we do not believe Mr.Magwood has the independence from the nuclear power industry, nor the security oversight background, to regulate it," said Danielle Brian, Executive Director, POGO. "We don't care if he is pro-nuclear. The current NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko and the Republican nominee Bill Ostendorff, are pro-nuclear, but we believe they have a demonstrated record of being independent and serious about oversight."

Mr. Magwood’s career is proof he is not cut out to be a regulator of the industry. He served as the Director and Associate Director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy. There he promoted the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, a program to restart reprocessing of nuclear waste, which President Obama canceled because of nuclear proliferation concerns. (A bit of a history lesson: the NRC was created when the Atomic Energy Commission was abolished in 1974 and split into two agencies because its dual missions of promotion and regulation of nuclear power was recognized as an inherent conflict of interest. As a result, DOE was given the role of promoting nuclear power — largely in the office that Magwood ran for seven years — while the NRC was created to regulate, inspect, and enforce regulations upon the nuclear power industry.)

As highlighted in a recent analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, since leaving government service in 2005, Mr. Magwood has been actively involved in efforts to advance the nuclear industry domestically and abroad. He founded Advanced Energy Strategies, which provides "expert advice and analysis of U.S. and international energy policy activities; nuclear industry developments and prospects; and supporting business development efforts." Mr. Magwood has also been an investor in and president of Secure Energy North America Corporation, a company that is "working with industry and investors to develop novel approaches to finance new nuclear power stations in the United States." There is very little public information on the web about either of these two companies. 

There is also evidence that Mr. Magwood will not effectively address the security threats that are a major issue facing the NRC. Mr. Magwood was the most senior official at DOE responsible for security at what was then Argonne National Lab West (ANL-West) when POGO investigated the security at that Lab in 2004. POGO found serious inadequacies. For example, POGO determined at ANL-West, which contained 8-9 tons of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium, the guard forcewas 50% undermanned and when ANL-West needed $1 million for quick security upgrades, DOE headquarters, Mr. Magwood, refused them the funds.

The nation’s long-term national security needs a nominee free of all conflicts on interest. For this reason, POGO has urged Congress to turn down this nomination. 

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

# # #