WASHINGTON HAS a special vocabulary for everything. When bureaucrats become too close with the industry they’re charged with overseeing, it’s called “regulatory capture.’’ The phenomenon can be very expensive for the public. Most famously, the Office of Thrift Supervision was accused of lax oversight contributing to the collapse of Washington Mutual and IndyMac, two of the biggest bank failures during the 2008 financial crisis. The OTS has been eliminated.
No one has yet come up with a phrase to describe regulators who hate the industry they oversee, but maybe it’s time. When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently approved a new plant license, the 4-1 vote looked like a cause for celebration. The lone dissent, however, came from Chairman Greg Jaczko, and it brought his running feud with the nuclear industry - and his fellow commissioners - to a new level.