At the very end of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “Town Hall” meeting at Embassy Suites on May 28, we in the audience were made aware that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is almost entirely funded by the nuclear industry itself rather than our government, through taxes. They consider it a “user fee.”
On Sunday June 7, I was listening to Public Radio International’s This American Life episode called “The Watchmen”. We were told that the big investment banks, like AIG, also paid a “user fee” (not their words) to their regulatory agency—in this case, the Office of Thrift Supervision. It was in the interests of both the industry and the agency that investment bonds be awarded high ratings. If the ratings were low, the investment banks would lose business, and the regulatory agency would have less to “regulate” and consequently also lose business. High ratings, whether accurate or not, led to a win/win situation for all concerned; except of course for us, the public.
What is to protect us now from the similar scenario of the nuclear industry paying for its own regulation?