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According to its website, the NEI "develops policy on key legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry. NEI then serves as a unified industry voice before the U.S. Congress, executive branch agencies and federal regulators, as well as international organizations and venues. NEI also provides a forum to resolve technical and business issues for the industry. Finally, NEI provides accurate and timely information on the nuclear industry to members, policymakers, the news media and the public." In practice, this takes the form of representing the nuclear industry's interests before Congress and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as serving as an industry think tank in order to influence public policy.
The nuclear energy industry that NEI represents and serves includes: Commercial electricity generation, nuclear medicine including diagnostics and therapy, food processing and agricultural applications, industrial and manufacturing applications, uranium mining and processing, nuclear fuel and radioactive materials manufacturing, transportation of radioactive materials, and nuclear waste management
NEI is governed by a 47-member board of directors. The board includes representatives from the nation's 27 nuclear utilities, plant designers, architect/engineering firms and fuel cycle companies. Eighteen members of the board serve on the executive committee, which is responsible for NEI's business and policy affairs.
NEI was founded in 1994 from the merger of several nuclear energy industry organizations, the oldest of which was created in 1953. Specifically, in 1994, NEI was formed from the merger of the Nuclear Utility Management and Resources Council (NUMARC), which addressed generic regulatory and technical issues; the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness (USCEA), which conducted a national communications program; the American Nuclear Energy Council (ANEC), which conducted government affairs; and the nuclear division of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which handled issues involving used nuclear fuel management, nuclear fuel supply, and the economics of nuclear energy. In 1987, NUMARC and USCEA were created through a division of the Atomic Industrial Forum (AIF). USCEA was founded in 1979 as the U.S. Committee for Energy Awareness. AIF was created in 1953 to focus on the beneficial uses of nuclear energy. This was two years before the international “Atoms for Peace” conference held in Geneva in 1955, marking the dawn of the nuclear age.
In addition to its core mission, NEI also sponsors a number of public communications efforts to build support for the industry and the expansion of nuclear energy, a number of which have come under attack from environmentalists and anti-nuclear activists. In 2006, NEI founded the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy) to help build local support around the country for new nuclear construction. The co-chairs of the coalition are Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore and former United States Environmental Protection Agency Secretary and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. As of April 2006, CASEnergy boasted 427 organizations and 454 individuals as members.
In April 2004, the Austin Chronicle reported that NEI has hired the Potomac Communications Group to ghostwrite pro-nuclear op-ed columns to be submitted to local newspapers under the name of local residents. In 2003 story in the Columbus Dispatch, NEI said that it engaged a public affairs agency to identify individuals with technical expertise in the nuclear energy industry to participate in the public debate. However, as many of these individuals have little experience in opinion writing for a non-technical audience, the agency provides assistance if requested, a common industry practice.
In 1999, Public Citizen filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission charging that an NEI advertising campaign overstated the environmental benefits of nuclear energy to consumers living in markets where sales of electricity had been deregulated. In a ruling the following December, the FTC rejected those claims concluding: NEI did not violate the law; agreed that the advertisements were directed to policymakers and opinion leaders in forums that principally reach those who set national policy on energy and environmental issues, and therefore did not constitute "commercial speech"; noted that in different circumstances, such as direct marketing of electricity, such advertising could be considered commercial speech and be subject to stricter substantiation.
NEI ran other ads with similar content, most recently one released in September 2006 touting nuclear energy's non-emitting character and the role it can play in reducing American dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuels like oil and natural gas.
In 2008, Greenpeace criticised NEI's public relations efforts and suggested that NEI's advertising about nuclear power was an example of greenwashing. In the first quarter of 2008, NEI spent $320,000 on lobbying the US federal government. Besides Congress, the nuclear group lobbied the White House, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy and others in the first three months of the year. The NEI spent $1.3 million to lobby the federal government in 2007.
In 2012, NEI quoted Kathyrn Higley, professor of radiation health physics in the department of nuclear engineering at Oregon State University, who described the health impact of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident to be "really, really minor", adding that "the Japanese government was able to effectively block a large component of exposure in this population".
- President and Chief Executive Officer: Maria G. Korsnick
- Chairman: Donald E. Brandt
- Vice Chairman: William D. Johnson
- Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer: John W. Pitesa
- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer: Phyllis M. Rich
- Vice President, Government Affairs: Beverly K. Marshall
- Vice President, Communications: Jon C. Wentzel
- Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary: Ellen Ginsberg
- Vice President, Policy Development and Public Affairs: John F. Kotek
- Vice President, Regulatory Affairs: Pamela B. Cowan
- Vice President, Operations: Joseph E. Pollock
- Vice President, Supplier and International Programs: Daniel S. Lipman
- Senior Director and Asst. Corp. Secretary: Lisa I. Steward
- Atomic Industrial Forum
- Institute of Nuclear Power Operations
- Frank L. "Skip" Bowman (Biographic details)
- Institute of Nuclear Materials Management
- Nuclear Energy Institute - About NEI
- Diane Farseta (September 1, 2008). "The Campaign to Sell Nuclear". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. pp. 38–56. Missing or empty
- The Austin Chronicle: News: Will Shill for Nukes: Decommissioning the nuclear lobby's phony op-ed campaign
- The Columbus Dispatch - Local/State
- Public Citizen | Press Room - Public Citizen Asks FTC to Declare NEI Ads False, Misleading
- Nuclear: Clear Air Energy Advertising
- The Nuclear Energy Institute: Greenwashing Nuclear Power
- >NEI: Governance and Leadership