House Passes Simpson’s Energy and Water Bill

Posted on 05/03/15 in Uncategorized, No Comments

House Energy and Water Chairman reverses Obama Administration’s nuclear cuts, increases INL funding

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson praised the House passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, which reverses proposed cuts to Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives today with a final vote of 240-177.

“I am pleased to report that the Energy and Water bill rejects cuts proposed by the Obama Administration to nuclear energy programs and increases funding for many of the vital research efforts at INL,” said Simpson. “The funding increases we have been able to secure will build on our previous work, and continue to make a real impact accelerating nuclear innovation programs and addressing much needed infrastructure enhancements at INL.  These investments will make sure nuclear energy remains an important component of our nation’s energy mix.”

The FY 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $936 million, an increase of $102.6 million above fiscal year 2015 and $28.5 million above the President’s request.  Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $936 million allocation include:

  • The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $218.5 million – a $12.5 million increase over last year and $6.7 million above the President’s request.
  • INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $126.1 million – an increase of $22.1 million over fiscal year 2015.
  • The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $111 million – an increase of $10.6 million above fiscal year 2015 and $25 million above the President’s request.
  • Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $62.5 million.   This funding is slated for NuScale Power’s Small Modular Reactor which is proposed for construction in Idaho.
  • The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which is managed by INL and promotes the continued safe operation of America’s existing nuclear reactors, is funded at $40 million.
  • The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $141 million – an increase of $8.7 million above fiscal year 2015 and $33.5 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $141 million level for this account, $33 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor.
  • Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $60.1 million, the same as fiscal year 2015; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $55 million, $16.5 million below fiscal year 2015.
  • Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $71.2 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor.
  • Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $5 million for the development of an Electric Grid Test Bed program to enhance existing full-scale electric grid testing capabilities like those at Idaho National Laboratory.

The bill provides $390 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with INL.  The funding level of $390 million is an increase of $10.5 million above fiscal year 2015 and $30 million above the President’s request, which will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. There is also an additional $2 million for the National Spent Fuel Program, putting the unique expertise of INL to work in order to provide solutions for managing the Department of Energy’s inventories of spent nuclear fuel.

Despite the Obama Administration’s unilateral decision to disregard the federal government’s legal requirement to take responsibility for civilian spent nuclear fuel, the bill contains funding to support the continued adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application, ensuring the federal government will meet its commitments to Idaho and other states and dispose of used nuclear fuel.

Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $35.4 billion for the functions of the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and a number of independent agencies, including direction for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration.

“This is a responsible bill that prioritizes national security needs and improving our nation’s infrastructure within tight budget caps,” Simpson said.  “As we do every year, we worked hard to incorporate perspectives from all members, and the result is legislation that makes critical investments in the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also funding important infrastructure projects and research that will increase U.S. economic competitiveness and growth.”

The bill will be conferenced with the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill later this year. The complete Committee Report can be found at:  http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-114-hr-fy2016-energywater.pdf