Gregory B. Jaczko, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced he would resign as soon as his replacement is confirmed.
"After an incredibly productive three years as Chairman, I have decided this is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum," Jaczko said in a statement today. "This is the right time to pass along the public safety torch to a new chairman..."
Jaczko presided over a tense three years. The AP reports that his resignation comes after his fellow commissioners sent a letter to the White House in October saying the had "grave concerns" about Jaczko's actions.
"Dr. Jaczko, chairman since May 2009 and the longest-serving member of the five-member commission, was an outsider and a maverick. He had drawn sharp criticism for helping to end government consideration of a proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, a volcanic ridge about 100 miles from Las Vegas, and for assuming some emergency powers at the commission after the triple meltdown of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi reactors in March 2011.
"He sought to address some longstanding safety problems at America's nuclear power reactors, but with a background in nuclear physics and nuclear policy but not the nuclear industry, Dr. Jaczko was long viewed with skepticism and mistrust by some industry insiders."
Under his watch, the commission OKd the first nuclear power plant since 1978. The commission voted 4 to 1 in favor. The only dissent came from Jaczko.