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Simpson Praises Final INL/Nuclear Funding Levels

Idaho Congressman says Energy Department funding bill allows progress at Idaho National Laboratory

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

 Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today announced that the final Energy and Water Development conference report for fiscal year 2012 increases funding for nuclear energy and continues progress toward the development of new nuclear technologies, including those under development at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Simpson is a senior member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, serving as one of its members for nearly nine years.

“I am very pleased that the Appropriations Committee and Congress have once again demonstrated strong 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 and its exceptional workforce play 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. We all know that Congress has had to make some very difficult choices about where to focus limited taxpayer resources, and with that in mind I am very grateful for the confidence my colleagues have shown for nuclear energy in this bill.”

Simpson also commended the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy and the Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, Dr. Pete Lyons, for the support they have given to INL and nuclear energy programs. “The road to securing support for nuclear programs begins with the budgets produced by Assistant Secretary Pete Lyons and the folks who work at the DOE and at labs like INL,” said Congressman Simpson. “I want to thank Dr. Lyons for working with me and other supporters of nuclear energy to gain support for these critical programs in Congress.”

The fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water Development conference report includes $768.6 million for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, a $31 million increase over the FY2011 funding level of $737 million. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the $768.6 million allotment include:

  • The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at Idaho National Laboratory - $155 million;
  • The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program - $74.9 million which includes;
  • The Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility at INL - $14.6 million;
  • Reactor Concepts Research and Development - $115.5 million. This funding includes $25 million for the Light Reactor Sustainability program and $40 million for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant program;
  • Fuel Cycle Research and Development - $187.4 million;
  • Small Modular Reactor Licensing Technical Support - $67 million;

The bill also provides $386.9 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 $386.9 million represents a $4.1 million increase over the President’s request and allows the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue their progress.

Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations conference report provides $32.1 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 for these agencies represents a reduction of $4.1 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 conference report is expected to pass the House and Senate today and be sent to the President for his signature before the current authorization for funding expires at midnight.