Idaho Congressman says Energy Dept. funding bill allows progress to continue on nuclear energy research, at INL
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson praised the work of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development in crafting a bill that reverses some of the Obama Administration’s cuts to nuclear energy and continues progress toward the development of new nuclear technologies, including those under development at Idaho National Laboratory. Simpson is a senior member of the Subcommittee, serving as one of its members for over ten years.
“I am pleased that the Appropriations Committee has once again demonstrated its support for the development of nuclear energy and provided the resources necessary to continue our nation’s progress on new and promising nuclear technologies,” said Congressman Simpson. “Idaho National Laboratory plays a vital national and international role in leading the development of new nuclear technologies, and this bill will help maintain and expand that role in the future. The Subcommittee had to make some very difficult choices about where to focus limited taxpayer resources, and I am very grateful for the confidence my colleagues have shown for nuclear energy in this bill.”
The fiscal year 2014 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill includes $656.4 million for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy and $94 million for Idaho National Laboratory Safeguards and Security. The combined total of these numbers, $750.4 million, represents an almost $15 million increase over the President’s FY2014 recommendation of $735.5 million and a $38.5 million reduction from the FY2013 funding level. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the $750.4 million allotment include:
- The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at Idaho National Laboratory; is funded at $181.6 million – a $28.5 million increase over FY2013 funding levels.
- The Advanced Reactor Concepts program, which includes funding for fuel qualification associated with the Next Generation Nuclear Plant, is funded at $45 million;
- The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program, including the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility at the INL, is funded at $66.7 million;
- Reactor Concepts Research, Development; and Demonstration is funded at $86.5 million;
- Fuel Cycle Research and Development is funded at $91.1 million;
- University Research Programs are funded at $5.5 million;
- Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $110 million;
- The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which promotes the continued safe operation of America’s existing nuclear reactors, is funded at $21.5 million.
The bill also provides $368 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with Idaho National Laboratory. The funding level of $368 million is an increase of $3 million above the President’s request and allows the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue.
Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $30.4 billion dollars for the functions of the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and a number of independent agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration. This level of funding represents a reduction of $2.9 billion below the FY2013 amount and $4.1 billion below the President’s request.
“There is no denying the fact that declining budgets and sequestration have had an impact on almost every program and institution in this bill, including Idaho National Laboratory,” said Simpson. “I am pleased to see the direct impact on nuclear energy, however, has been minimized and that progress on nuclear energy research and development will continue under this bill.”
The bill was approved by the House Appropriations Committee and is expected to be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks. The complete Committee report can be found at: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-fy2014-energywater.pdf.