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Simpson Advances Key INL Funding in Energy Bill

House Appropriations Committee passes Energy and Water and Agriculture spending bills

Washington, DC – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced that the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill protects funding for the 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 this week, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.

“The FY19 Energy and Water bill recognizes the leading national role that the Idaho National Laboratory plays in enhancing our national security and increasing American competitiveness,” said Chairman Simpson.  “I’m proud to support their groundbreaking research in advanced reactor and fuel development, battery and bioenergy programs, and protecting the electric grid from cyber-attacks, and I am pleased this bill fulfills their needs to continue this critical work.”

The FY 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $1.2 billion.  Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $1.2 billion allocation include:

·         The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $322 million – a $28 million increase over last year.

·         INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $146 million – an increase of $13 million over fiscal year 2018.

·         The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $164.3 million – an increase of $5.3 million above fiscal year 2018. 

·         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 $50 million, the same as last year.

·         The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $370 million – an increase of $133 million above last year. Within the overall level for this account, $34 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, and $100 million is for Advanced Small Modular Reactor Research and Development to support technical, first-of-its-kind engineering and design and regulatory development of next generation light water and non-light water reactor technologies. 

·         Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $128.5 million; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $62.5 million.

Other vital priorities funded within the Energy and Water division include: 

·         Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $85.5 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor. 

·         Within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, $25 million is included for energy efficient mobility systems and over $27 million for the Lab’s bioenergy program, and $9 million for the integrated energy systems.

·         Provides significant investment in cyber security grid protection work that the Idaho National Laboratory leads. 

·         A provision to allow recharge of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer during flood releases and high flow events at the Palisades Reservoir. 

The bill also provides $420 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 will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $5 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. 

The bill also 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 $44.7 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.

“This is a well-balanced bill that places emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation's infrastructure,” Chairman Simpson said.  “It prioritizes the maintenance and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also supporting infrastructure projects and strategic research and development that will increase U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.”

The House Appropriations Committee also passed the fiscal year 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The legislation includes important priorities to Idaho such as vital research and support for farmers and ranchers. Similar to previous years, Congressman Simpson authored language in the Agriculture Appropriations bill that blocks the proposed closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho.

Also included in the Agriculture Appropriations bill are other important Idaho priorities such as potato and wheat research funding, support for pest eradication programs, and language directing the FDA to develop a standard identity for dairy based on existing standards, which is similar to Congressman Simpson’s bipartisan DAIRY Pride Act. The Committee also unanimously adopted a bipartisan amendment from Congressman Simpson that would roll back a rule from the Obama Administration which created a barrier for potatoes to be served in the school breakfast program.

“Potatoes are in important source of potassium and fiber, which are two nutrients identified as deficient in all U.S. populations by both the 2015 Dietary Guidelines and USDA,” said Simpson.  “I’m pleased the Committee adopted my bipartisan amendment to treat potatoes like other vegetables of need in the school breakfast program. This is important to Idaho and students who need healthy options.  The House Appropriations Committee has sent a strong message that rural America matters and this bill delivers for farmers and ranchers.”

The two bills are expected to be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.