Tina Trenkner is the Deputy Editor for GOVERNING.com. She edits the Technology and Health newsletters.E-mail: email@example.com
When a tsunami wiped out the electricity at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March, the resulting crisis in Japan caused many Americans to worry and ask: Could that happen here? It is a question Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioner David C. Boyd has been asked repeatedly.
"We’re all getting [questions] from our friends and family," he says. "It’s natural and reasonable, and [I have] no qualms about trying to engage the dialogue."
Originally a chemistry professor at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Boyd applied to finish out the term of an outgoing utility commissioner in 2007. Boyd says that the industries he and his colleagues regulate—electricity, natural gas and telecommunications—tend to fly under the radar until a crisis like Fukushima arises. As chair of a national committee on nuclear issues, Boyd’s role is to help his fellow state commissioners stay informed and connect them to nuclear experts and resources.
Recently Boyd co-moderated a webinar panel on the status of the Fukushima accident for several of his colleagues. He doesn’t expect the questions or conversations to subside anytime soon. "I’m reasonably sure that at [the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ (NARUC)] summer meeting, the issues of Japan will become a fairly hot topic of conversation," he says.