Friday, July 11, 2014

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House Passes Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

Washington – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced that the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Development Appropriations which passed the House of Representatives last night, increases funding for critical programs at the Idaho National Laboratory. Simpson is 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.

“I am pleased to report that the Energy and Water bill increases funding for many of the vital research efforts at INL,” said Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson. “We’ve worked very hard with the Lab and the people of Eastern Idaho to promote INL, its mission, and its vital workforce as keys to a strong nuclear future here in the U.S. and across the globe. The funding increases contained in the bill will have a lasting impact on enhancing the current capabilities of the Lab and building new, unique capabilities that are essential to a vibrant national laboratory. This bill 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 FY 2015 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and the report which accompanied the bill laid out the following funding levels for nuclear energy research and development programs:

·         The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at Idaho National Laboratory, is funded at $206 million – a $20million increase over the President’s request and $9.4 million above last year.
·         Idaho National Laboratory’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $104 million – an increase of $10 million over fiscal year 2014.
·         The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $101 million – an increase of nearly $30 million above fiscal year 2014 and $22.8 million above the President’s request.  Increases under this program are directed to fully complete the installation of post-irradiation examination equipment at INL’s Irradiated Materials Characterization Laboratory (IMCL).
·         Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $54.5 million. This 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 $35million, an increase of $5 million over FY2014 and the budget request.
·         The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $138 million – an increase of $25 million above fiscal year 2014 and $37.5 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $138 million level for this account, $33 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, $11 million above the budget request.
·         Fuel Cycle Research and Development is funded at $182 million, $4.5 million below fiscal year 2014 and $7 million below the budget request. Within the fuel cycle program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $60.1 million, the same as last year and $17 million above the budget request, and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $55 million, $25 million above fiscal year 2014 and $6 million above the budget request.
·         Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $68 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor, an increase of $1.5 million above fiscal year 2014.
·         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 $380 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 $380 million is an increase of $13 million above the President’s request and allows the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $2 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.  Finally, $10 million is provided separately for security improvements of spent fuel storage at Fort St. Vrain, Colorado, which is managed by INL. Separate funding will ensure these needs do not impact the progress of ongoing cleanup activities in Idaho.  

 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 continues Nuclear Regulatory Commission funding for a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain and to support the continued adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application. .

Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $34 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.

“The Energy and Water Development bill touches virtually every American in some way and is critical to our nation’s energy and national security,” said Chairman Simpson. "This bill reflects the tough decisions necessitated by our challenging fiscal environment, while placing emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation's infrastructure. It prioritizes the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also funding important infrastructure projects and research that will increase U.S. economic competitiveness and growth."  

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