In a vote Friday, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Allison Macfarlane as chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.She will replace Gregory Jaczko, who announced his resignation in May amid allegations of abusive behavior that he has consistently denied.In taking the post, MacFarlane will leave her position as an associate professor at George Mason University. She holds a doctorate in geology from MIT and has held a number of research positions at academic institutions that include the Georgia Institute of Technology and programs at Harvard and Stanford. While her previous work did not involve political advocacy regarding nuclear power issues, a book she authored in 2006 outlined a range of challenges facing the now-defunded Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. Her expertise and views on managing the country's spent nuclear fuel came to the fore most recently in her work as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. MacFarlane was appointed to serve the remainder of Jaczko's term, which ends June 30, 2013. The Senate also confirmed the reappointment of NRC Member Kristine Svinicki.
Both the headline of this item and the text are incorrect. Dr. Macfarlane (the "f" is not capitalized) was not confirmed as "chairwoman" (or even chairman) of the NRC. She was confirmed as an NRC Commissioner, which is the only office that is subject to Senate confirmation. Senate confirmation is not required for the appointment of the Chairman; it is solely at the discretion of the President. Thus, after her confirmation as a Commissioner, she could be--and was--formally designated by the President to serve as Chairman. (The fact that she was nominated to serve the remainder of Jaczko's term did not automatically mean that she would serve as Chairman; the President could have designated any one of the other four Commissioners to serve as Chairman at any time before or after Macfarlane's confirmation, had he so desired.)