David Blee, president, founder, and CEO of the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council business consortium, died Sunday, apparently while visiting family in Kentucky.
His death was confirmed Monday by USNIC Director Caleb Ward.
“From what I understand, David had a negative reaction with the medication he was taking to get over his cold,” Ward said in a statement. The 66-year-old Blee died after being taken to a hospital and given a blood transfusion.
“We are all very saddened by this news and ask that you keep his family in your prayers,” Ward said. A funeral was planned today in Paris, Ky., and a memorial service will be held Jan. 13 at 10:30 a.m. ET at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C.
Blee was a familiar face around the U.S. Energy Department’s weapons complex and in hearings and meetings on nuclear energy issues more generally. News of his death circulated Sunday on Twitter by Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols and others. “He was an advisor to me for all things nuclear & a great friend,” Echols said.
“We have lost a true champion of nuclear energy in the passing of David Blee,” Rita Baranwal, assistant energy secretary for nuclear energy, tweeted Monday morning.
“Few have his ability to navigate the corridors of Washington and consistently advance worthy goals as capably” as Blee, said Bud Albright, a former undersecretary of energy who chairs the NIC. Albright said in a statement that NIC will continue to advocate for the nuclear industry.
Blee headed the Nuclear Industry Council since its inception in 2004 as the U.S. Transport Council. It has more than 80 members, including nuclear utilities, engineering and construction companies, suppliers, and technology firms.
As head of the USNIC, also previously known as the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council, Blee was active in pushing for development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. In early 2018, he wrote that the Donald Trump administration was not following through on its plans to resurrect the licensing process for Yucca Mountain.
Blee and NIC also submitted comments in support of the Energy Department’s move this summer to reinterpret the definition of high-level radioactive waste.
Earlier this year, Blee was appointed to a fourth term on the Commerce Department’s Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee (CINTAC).
During his career, Blee held a number of jobs within the Department of Energy, including as principal deputy assistant secretary of energy and director of public affairs, according to an online biography. He was also chief of staff for now-retired U.S. Congressman Connie Mack III (R-Fla.), who served in first the House of Representatives and later the Senate into 2001. Blee’s private sector career included a stint as executive vice president for marketing with NAC International, a nuclear fuel services company based near Atlanta.
Blee graduated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania with a degree in economics. As the son of a Central Intelligence Agency officer, Blee was born in Pakistan and spent much of his childhood overseas, according to the NIC.