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Pallone: New DOE Rule May Chill Nuclear Safety Whistleblowers

Feb 10, 2017
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn today raising concerns that a recently issued Department of Energy (DOE) rule may chill nuclear safety whistleblowers and discourage the reporting of safety violations at our nation’s nuclear facilities.  Pallone’s letter follows up on a story in the Washington Post earlier this week outlining concerns from advocates about the rule’s chilling effects on whistleblowers. 

“I am deeply concerned that this regulation may send a chilling message to whistleblowers, and discourage the reporting of safety violations at our nation’s nuclear facilities,” Pallone wrote in the letter.

“Over the years, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has relied upon important information obtained by whistleblowers to highlight both fraud and abuse related to federal spending and unsafe activities pertaining to the energy sector that could harm workers and the environment.  According to The Washington Post, whistleblower advocates are concerned that this recent DOE rule could ‘discourage the reporting of violations’ related to nuclear safety, violations of the law, and contractor mismanagement.”

In the letter Pallone seeks answers to several questions including:

  • Do you believe that the January 31, 2017 rulemaking will benefit DOE or the public from the perspective of contractor fraud, waste, and abuse or unsafe working conditions related to nuclear activities?
  • Do you agree with the assessment that the halting of levying civil penalties on federal contractors who retaliate against whistleblowers could chill future whistleblowers, and if not, why not?
  • Did the Administration consult with any federal entities that regularly work with whistleblowers to assess whether the issuance of this rule could have possible “chilling” impacts on future whistleblower activity?

The Energy and Commerce Committee is responsible for oversight of the Department of Energy including our nation’s nuclear facilities.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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