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House Funding Bill Supports Nuclear Energy

Idaho Congressman says Energy Department funding bill allows progress to continue on nuclear energy research and development

Idaho Congressman says Energy Department funding bill allows progress to continue on nuclear energy research and development

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today praised the work of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development in crafting a bill that increases funding for 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 eight years.

“I am very pleased that the Subcommittee 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.”

Simpson also commended a provision in the bill that directs the Secretary of Energy to report to Congress on how investments in science and applied energy programs are consistent with the national goals of increasing the supply and reducing the cost of clean energy. “I think it’s important that the Administration and Congress acknowledge the DOE’s core mission of energy independence and refocus priorities to reduce our reliance on unstable energy supplies,” said Simpson. “It is my hope that this report will help us re-establish the right priorities for limited funding and set us on an enduring path to energy independence.”  

The fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill includes $733.6 million for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, an almost $8 million increase over the FY2011 funding level of $725.8 million. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the $733.6 million allotment include:

  • The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at Idaho National Laboratory;
  • The Next Generation Nuclear Plant program, a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor designed to allow nuclear power to provide process heat for industrial applications;
  • The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program, including the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility at the INL;
  • Reactor Concepts Research and Development;
  • Fuel Cycle Research and Development;
  • University Research Programs;
  • Small Modular Reactor Development and Licensing Support;
  • Light Water Reactor Sustainability programs, which promote the continued safe operation of America’s existing nuclear reactors.

The bill also provides $382.8 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 $382.8 million is level with the President’s request and allows the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue their progress.

Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $30.6 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 $1.04 billion below the FY2011 amount and $5.9 billion below the President’s request.

“If energy supply and price instability have taught us anything, it is that our nation needs to improve its focus on developing clean, safe, and domestic sources of energy and that nuclear energy must be a strong component of our nation’s energy portfolio,” said Simpson

The bill was unanimously approved today by the Subcommittee and is expected to be considered by the full Appropriations Committee in two weeks.