House Energy and Water Chairman’s first bill reverses Obama Administration’s nuclear cuts, moves INL forward
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today announced that the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill reverses substantial cuts to Idaho National Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho. Simpson was recently appointed 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 Obama Administration sought to cut funding for Idaho National Laboratory and the Office of Nuclear Energy last year and I am happy to report that this bill reverses those cuts and secures substantial increases in a number of critical areas,” said Simpson. “In fact, I have increased funding for INL’s nuclear research programs, ensured full funding for the Lab’s vital security force, and boosted funding by more than $20 million for the ongoing nuclear cleanup activities in Eastern Idaho. This bill not only stabilizes funding at INL after a couple of years of uncertainty, it sends a strong message that INL’s work as the DOE’s lead nuclear energy laboratory is critical to our nation’s energy security.”
The FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $889 million, including $94 million for Idaho National Laboratory Safeguards and Security. The $889 million funding level represents an increase of $154 million over the President’s request and $36 million over the FY2013 funding level. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the $889 million allocation include:
The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at Idaho National Laboratory; is funded at $196.6 million – a $15 million increase over the President’s request;
The Next Generation Nuclear Plant Fuel and Graphite Qualification Program is funded at $33 million, an increase of $17 million above the President’s request;
Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $110 million, an increase of $44 million above the President’s request and $40 million above FY2013 funding levels. A portion of the 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 $30 million, an increase of $8.5 million above the President’s request;
Fully funds the Idaho National Laboratory’s Safeguards and Security Program at $94 million. Under sequestration, INL’s Safeguards and Security Program would have been forced to endure devastating cuts impacting operations across the Laboratory;
Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $66.5 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor, an increase of $2 million above the President’s request;
The Advanced Test Reactor’s National Scientific User Facility receives a $5 million increase to equip a new post irradiation laboratory at INL;
Split between the Office of Naval Reactors and the Office of Nuclear Energy, the bill contains $37 million for the construction of a Remote Handled Low-Level Waste Disposal Project;
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 also provides $387 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 $387 million is an increase of $22 million above the President’s request and allows the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue.
The bill continues Nuclear Regulatory Commission funding for a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain to maintain its viability for future use and complete the third safety evaluation report as part of the licensing process.
Finally, the bill includes funding of $44 million for environmental infrastructure within the Army Corps of Engineers. The Section 595 Rural Idaho program for community water and waste water infrastructure is eligible for funding within this allocation.
Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $34 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.
“While all of this funding is critically important to INL and the advancement of nuclear energy technologies, I cannot stress enough how important it was to reverse the cuts to the guard force,” said Simpson. “Without a fully funded guard force, INL would have been forced to curtail vital operations and layoff additional personnel. I am grateful that this bill rights that wrong.”
The bill is expected to be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday and in the Senate later this week. The complete Conference Report can be found at: http://rules.house.gov/bill/113/hr-3547-sa