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.
When Magwood was nominated by President Obama in 2009 to become a commissioner, nearly a hundred environmental groups, along with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), urged his defeat in the Senate, arguing that he was too close to the industry to be tasked with regulating it.
He was confirmed in March 2010 by unanimous consent.
Since joining the body, Magwood has coordinated with the two Republicans and the other Democrat on the panel to delay and water down new safety reforms pushed by Jaczko, according to the emails made public by Markey. Following the Fukushima disaster, Jaczko has made a major effort to increase safety standards, an effort that is being closely watched by international regulators and nuclear companies across the globe.
Magwood's recent client list makes up a who's who of Japanese power and nuclear companies, and included CLSA Japan Equities Division, the Federation of Electrical Power Companies in Japan (FEPC), IBT Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, RW Beck, Sumitomo Corporation and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which was roundly criticized for its response to the crisis.
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