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Simpson Protects INL in Energy Bill

House Energy and Water Chairman reverses cuts to Nuclear Energy research and development, increases INL funding

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today announced that the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill 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, which passed the bill through the full House Appropriations Committee today, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.

“The FY17 Energy and Water bill provides strong funding for the Office of Nuclear Energy and the essential work at the Idaho National Laboratory,” said Chairman Simpson.  “Every day, world renowned researchers at the INL work to promote and ensure our nation’s energy security, and this bill will provide them with the resources they need to continue their cutting edge work.  With increasing international competition, it is critical that the U.S. remain at the forefront of nuclear research and development, and I am proud that this bill will help maintain that leadership.” 

The FY 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $1.01 billion, an increase of $25.4 million above fiscal year 2016 and $17.7 million above the President’s request.  Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $1.01 billion allocation include:

  • The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $240 million – a $19.5 million increase over last year and the President’s request.

  • INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $129.3 million – an increase of $3.1 million over fiscal year 2016.
  • The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $121.4 million – an increase of $9.8 million above fiscal year 2016 and $31.9 million above the President’s request. 

  • Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $96.6 million.   This fully funds 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 $140 million – an increase of $31.2 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $140 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 $62.1 million, $2 million above fiscal year 2016; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $61.1 million, $23.8 million below fiscal year 2016.

  • Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $75.1 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor. 

  • Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $12 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 $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 is $20 million above the President’s request and will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $4 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 $37.4 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.

“From water projects across the nation to critical energy research and national security, the Energy and Water bill has a wide reach,” Chairman Simpson said.  “This is a responsible bill that supports U.S. national security, safety, and economic competitiveness by balancing critical priorities within tight budget caps,” said Chairman Simpson.  “It prioritizes the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also making strategic investments in infrastructure projects and energy research that will help grow the U.S. economy.”

The bill 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: