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SEN. BINGAMAN: Why don't we get started here. The committee meets this afternoon to consider five nominations for officers in the Department of Energy and the Department of Interior. The five nominees are Kristina M. Johnson, to be the undersecretary of Energy; Steven Elliot Koonin, to be the undersecretary of Science in the Department of Energy; Ines R. Triay, to be the assistant secretary of Energy for Environmental Management; Scott Blake Harris, to be the general counsel for the Department of Energy; and Hilary Chandler Tompkins to be the solicitor for the Department of Interior.
These are five very important offices. I believe the president has chosen well. He has presented us with very well qualified and capable people for each of these positions. I'm very impressed with the scientific credentials of both Dr. Johnson and Dr. Koonin of course. And believe that they along with Secretary Chu will provide the Department of Energy leadership worthy of the nation's premiere science agency.
Dr. Triay has been the principal deputy assistant secretary for Environmental Management for the past two years; and has been the acting assistant secretary since November. She brings to the job over 10 years of experience in the Office of Environmental Management and in the Carlsbad Field Office; and another 14 years of experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Mr. Harris and Ms. Tompkins are both very capable and experienced lawyers, who will bring their skills and experience to the top legal offices of their respective departments.
I note that Dr. Triay and Ms. Tompkins are from New Mexico. My colleague Senator Udall is here to make an endorsement of each of them. And we're very glad that we have all five nominees before the committee.
Let me first, before I call on Senator Udall, let me call on Senator Murkowski for any statement she would like to make.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to welcome all the nominees before us and thank them for their willingness to enter into -- or in one case, to remain in government service. I am gratified that the log jam kind of seems to have broken on the nominees at the Department of the Interior and Energy as well.
We have before us today the folks who will be making a large percentage of the day-to-day policy and the legal decisions at these agencies. And I think the importance of these positions cannot be overestimated. Today we have before us the person who is responsible for overseeing the department's Nuclear Waste Program. And in light of the administration's recent decision to reject the economic program before providing any alternative plans for meeting the government's growing liabilities, I tell you this is not a job that I envy.
The nominee for solicitor general at Interior will also have her plate full as she walks in the door. I think we would agree that there never seems to be a shortage of issues. There are legal issues at Interior, but it does seem that recent days have brought an extra level of perhaps controversy in a whole range of areas. One court decision that concerns me greatly is the D.C. Circuit's recent decision to vacate and to remand the five-year OCS leasing program. Whether this case is appealed again or if the Department of Interior restructures the five-year plan, Interior must make advancing a responsible and an efficient program for our OCS resources in Alaska and elsewhere a priority.
Mr. Chairman, as I have mentioned to you, I have another hearing that I am ranking on and chairing this afternoon at 2:30; so I will have to leave. I will have a series of questions that I would submit to the nominees. But I do look forward to continuing our discussion on these and other issues as the process moves forward. So, thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you very much.
Let me call on Senator Udall to make some introductions of two of the witnesses as I understand it, or two of the nominees. Go ahead.
SEN. TOM UDALL (D-NM): Thank you, Chairman Bingaman and ranking member Murkowski and other members of the committee. It is an honor to introduce two constituents of mine and Chairman Bingaman's; Hilary Tompkins, President Obama's nominee as solicitor general of the Department of Interior and Dr.. Ines Triay, President Obama's nominee for assistant secretary for the Department of Energy.
Ms. Tompkins has already seen just about everything the law has to offer from the federal offices of Washington, D.C. to the courtrooms of the Navajo Nation, to the highest levels of New Mexico state government. As a law student, she clerked for the Navajo Nation's Supreme Court giving her fluency in Indian law that few lawyers have. After graduation, she was accepted into the prestigious Justice Department Honors Program. In that role, she helped to use the power of the federal government to hold businesses accountable for violations of our nation's environmental regulations.
She also gained experience navigating the complex world of regulatory law as it is practiced at the highest levels. But Ms. Tompkins was not content to spend her whole life serving in Washington. After two years fighting crime in the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office, she returned to the land of her birth. As a practicing lawyer in Albuquerque New Mexico, she focused on environmental and water law; two areas that loom large in the -- (inaudible) -- west. She also handled federal and tribal law for her law firm.
Then, Governor Richardson called. In January, 2003 Ms. Tompkins joined the New Mexico Governor's Council's office. She was the first Native American to be chief counsel to a New Mexico governor. From that position, she saw every legal controversy that a state as diverse as New Mexico can produce. She advised on legislation, oversaw litigation; provided the legal expertise for an active state executive. She also managed a large staff of talented attorneys gaining their trust and respect.
Now, Ms. Tompkins has been nominated for a new job. The Interior Department's solicitor general oversees 400 staff lawyers including -- 400 staff including 300 lawyers. The job demands a wide variety of legal knowledge ranging from water and environmental regulation to complex property law to constitutional doctrine. It must be filled by a lawyer who has the skills, the dedication and values to protect our nation's priceless natural legacy and pass it down to future generations.
And it requires a lawyer who understands and appreciates this nation's special relationship with its Native American tribes. Ms. Tompkins is that lawyer. I hope the committee agrees; and I hope you all join me in supporting her confirmation.
Dr. Triay is an extremely-qualified scientist with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Miami. She spent much of her successful career in New Mexico; first at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and next as the head of the Carlsbad Field Office, before serving in the department's leadership in Washington, D.C. She is a strong role model and her career is a shining example for aspiring young scientists; particularly, women and Hispanics who are today underrepresented in the scientific community.
She has devoted her career to a safe cleanup of the environmental legacy of the nation's Cold War nuclear weapons production. This is the largest and complex environmental cleanup program in history with more than 100 sites in 30 states. I have witnessed Dr. Triay's work in New Mexico and attest to its quality. Dr. Triay is able to handle both the difficult scientific issues and the critical public health issues involved in these cleanups.
During her tenure at DOE, Dr. Triay has tackled some of the nation's most difficult cleanup challenges, including completing cleanup at Rocky Flats in Colorado. She also played an instrumental role in ensuring that transuranic waste disposal operations at the department's Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico are safe and secure.
Mr. Chairman, there is no scientist better qualified to be assistant secretary of the Office of Environmental Management at DOE. I hope you will join me in supporting Dr. Triay for this position. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to come and introduce these two very capable individuals.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you very much for the strong endorsement of both individuals.
Let me mention that Senator Barbara Mikulski was not able to be here today; but she has provided testimony, which we'll include in the record strongly endorsing Dr. Kristina Johnson's nomination by the president as well. So, we'll include that in the record.
Unless there is a question of our colleague Senator Udall, I'll allow him to leave; and we will call forward the nominees. Why don't you all come forward and just remain standing and I will present this oath, which we are required to do in our committee by our committee rules.
If each of you would stand; and raise your right hand please.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Please be seated.
Before we begin to hear your statement, I will ask three questions that we address to nominees that come before this committee. The first question is will you be available to appear before this committee and other congressional committees to represent departmental positions; and to respond to issues of concern to the Congress?
MS. JOHNSON: I will.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Mr. Koonin?
MR. KOONIN: I will.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Ms. Triay?
MS. TRIAY: I will.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Ms. Tompkins?
MS. TOMPKINS: I will.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Mr. Harris?
MR. HARRIS: I will.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you. Here is the second question. Are you aware of any personal holdings, investments or interests that could constitute a conflict of interest or create the appearance of such a conflict should you be confirmed and assume the office to which you've been nominated by the president?
Ms. Johnson, why don't you go first.
MS. JOHNSON: All of my personal assets have been reviewed by both myself and appropriate ethics counselors of the federal government. And I have taken every appropriate action to avoid any conflicts of interests.
SEN. BINGAMAN: All right.
MR. KOONIN: All of my personal assets have been reviewed both by myself and by appropriate ethics counselors within the federal government. And I have taken appropriate actions to avoid any conflicts of interests.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Ms. Triay?
MS. TRIAY: All of my personal assets have been reviewed both by myself and by appropriate ethics counselors within the federal government. And I have taken appropriate action to avoid any conflicts of interests.
SEN. BINGAMAN: All right.
MS. TOMPKINS: My investment, personal holdings and other interests have been reviewed both by myself and the appropriate ethics counselors in the federal government. I have taken appropriate actions to avoid any conflicts of interests. There are no conflicts of interests or appearances thereof to my knowledge.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Mr. Harris?
MR. HARRIS: All of my personal assets have been reviewed both by myself and by the appropriate ethics counselors within the federal government. And I have taken appropriate action to avoid any conflicts of interests.
SEN. BINGAMAN: All right, thank you all very much. The third and final question is, are you involved or do you have any assets that are held in a blind trust?
MS. JOHNSON: No.
SEN. BINGAMAN: No?
MR. KOONIN: NO.
MS. TRIAY: No.
MS. TOMPKINS: No.
MR. HARRIS: No, sir.
SEN. BINGAMAN: All right, thank you all very much.
Our tradition here in the committee is for nominees to have the opportunity at this point to introduce any family members that are with them. If you'd like to do that, please go right ahead.
MS. JOHNSON: Thank you very much. Please allow me to introduce my sister, Jennifer -- (inaudible) -- from Arizona; my sister Sarah (sp) Cohen and her daughter Hanna, who is here with "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day." And my friends from West Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina, Maryland and Ontario who join us today. Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: You've got a big crowd here; it's obvious. Thank you.
MR. KOONIN: With me this afternoon, are my wife Laurie, who has been my companion, advisor and support for almost 39 years; and the second of our three children Alyson.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Very good. Well, we welcome them.
MS. TRIAY: With me today is my husband of 24 years Dr. John Hall and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Hall.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Well good, we welcome them too.
MS. TOMPKINS: With me today are my parents Ken and Nancy Tompkins from southern New Jersey; and my husband Mike Pringell (ph) and our daughter Hallie (ph) are back in New Mexico fighting a cold. So they apologize for not being here.
SEN. BINGAMAN: That's fine.
MR. HARRIS: Senator, I'd like to introduce my wife of 30 years, Barbara Harris. Also with me is my son Colin, who is a senior at the Sidwell Friends School; and will soon become a constituent of Senator Shaheen's as he enters Dartmouth next fall. And I'd also like to introduce my daughter Margo, who is a sophomore at the National Cathedral School; and she has worked on the Hill as an intern for Senator Cantwell.
SEN. BINGAMAN: It sounds like you have an inside track.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Well thank you all. We welcome all of your family members. At this point, why don't we hear whatever statements you'd like to make, any opening statement.
Dr. Johnson, go right ahead.
MS. JOHNSON: Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, it is an honor and privilege to appear here today as President Obama's nominee for undersecretary of Energy. I look forward, if confirmed, to working with Secretary Chu and members of the committee in serving our nation in this capacity. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and also to have met with you or your staff prior to today.
I wish to thank President Obama for asking me to join his administration as undersecretary of Energy, and Secretary Chu for his confidence in this appointment. If confirmed, I look forward to being part of this stellar Department of Energy team that Secretary Chu has assembled, some of which are here today and some of which you will see in the future. I'm confident that this team and many others working with us are up to the challenges of achieving the goals of producing more jobs, reducing greenhouse gases, and achieving energy security.
Together we will work tirelessly to bridge the gap between basic and applied research, technology development and commercial deployment to advance our economy in energy security through optimizing our electrical building infrastructures. As stated in my written testimony, I am a third generation engineer. My grandfather worked with George Westinghouse at the first turn of the last century. And my father, Robert G. Johnson, was an electro-mechanical engineer, also working for Westinghouse. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, my dad rejoined Westinghouse and developed most of the bid packages for the large hydro-electric power plants, including Grand Canyon, Grand Coulee and Boulder Dam, to mention a few.
Their example, along with my mother's determination that all seven of her children would have the opportunity for a college education, which she was not able to have as she grew up during The Depression, has helped shape my own course and desire to similarly serve society through educating others and through the application of science and technology innovation to build new products, processes and companies to make lives better.
I've been a professor, an inventor, an entrepreneur, a small business owner, and a senior university administrative leader. My career has focused on improving each institution as I have tried to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. If confirmed, I pledge to you the members of this committee that I will apply my knowledge, expertise and experience to work with you, serve the president, Secretary Chu and our country for the betterment of society. Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you very much.
Dr. Koonin, go right ahead.
MR. KOONIN: Chairman Bingaman, Senator Murkowski and members of the committee, I am truly honored to appear before you as President Obama's nominee for undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy. To aid your consideration of my nomination, I'd like to say something about myself, something about science in the department, and something about what I hope to accomplish if my nomination is confirmed.
I've worked in science for almost four decades; largely as a professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology. As a researcher, I have several times been thrilled to understand something new about nature. As a teacher, I've had the satisfaction of supervising some 25 Ph.D. theses and educating hundreds of talented students. And as Cal Tech's provost for nine years, I gained a deeper understanding of the breadth of technical cultures and shaped programs in biology, astronomy, the earth sciences, the social sciences, and information science.
For the past five years as BP's chief scientist, I've helped guide that company's long-range technology strategy; and in particular, catalyzing a major business and research initiative in biofuels. I also came to appreciate the dynamics, strengths and weaknesses of the private sector as well as the global context for U.S. research and education efforts. And in diverse advisory roles for the past 25 years, including work with the JASON group, I've been exposed to many technical problems facing the government, particularly in national security; and have even helped solve some of them.
Throughout my career it has been a privilege and pleasure for me to learn and understand deeply from many teachers, mentors and colleagues. Over the decades my taste have broadened from the fascinating, but relatively circumscribed problems of basic science to the richer and more difficult problems that intertwine, science, technology, economics and politics. My involvement with the DOE began as a Los Alamos summer graduate student in 1972. Since then, more by inclination than design I've worked significantly in the three major areas of DOE technical activities -- basic science, nuclear security and energy technologies. Let me offer a few observations about each.
The basic research supported by the Office of Science is one of the jewels of the federal research portfolio. The long tradition of peer-reviewed support for university and national laboratory researchers, and for forefront user facilities continues to drive advances on many fronts. We're at the cusp of understanding the origin of mass. We're at the cusp of understanding what makes up most of the universe and how quarks and gluons combine to form nuclei. New instrumentation and new information technologies are enabling better understanding of the changing climate and new capabilities to predict, control and manipulate materials, biological systems and plasma..
The commitments from Congress and from the administration to double support for these activities over the next decade are more than justified.
In nuclear security, the president has set ambitious goals for reducing the U.S. stockpile of weapons while maintaining confidence in their safety, security and reliability in the absence of nuclear testing. But these goals will not be achievable without a robust technical enterprise in the NNSA. The ongoing stockpile stewardship program has been effective for more than a decade but faces growing challenges in maintaining technical capabilities.
Strengthening those same capabilities will also be essential to achieving the president's non-proliferation goals. The president's energy goals are to enhance energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating new jobs. Improvements in the technologies to produce, transmit, store and use energy are essential to meeting them. But the scale, duration, cost and complexity of energy matters poses significant challenges. Technical understanding and judgment are important in making the right decisions.
And novel forms of public, private and international partnerships will be required to address these global societal problems. I have pledged to Secretary Chu that I will work closely with the undersecretary of energy on these matters. And indeed, I am confident that Dr. Johnson and I will be very effective together should we both be confirmed.
What do I aspire to accomplish as undersecretary for science? By statue the position has the dual responsibilities of overseeing the Office of Science and of being the principal scientific advisor to the secretary. In the former capacity, I would look forward to working with this committee, Secretary Chu, the director of the Office of Science, and the broader scientific community, to see that Office of Science funds are wisely allocated and the programs are well executed.
As the scientific advisor, I would hope to coordinate and harmonize technical activities across the department and bring the discipline of appropriate peer review, program management and project management to all parts of DOE. I would also hope to promote rigorous and unbiased technical assessments in all matters facing the department as these necessarily underpin good policy decisions. The tone that Secretary Chu has already set and the team he is assembling are highly conducive to achieving those goals..
In closing, let me say that I am both humbled and energized by the confidence President Obama has placed in me through this nomination. If confirmed, I will do my utmost to work with this committee, Secretary Chu and others to sustain and enhance the Department of Energy's basic research and to ensure quality technical thinking across the entire spectrum of the department's activities. Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee; and I'm happy to answer any questions that you might have for me.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you very much.
MS. TRIAY: Mr. Chairman, Senator Murkowski, members of the committee, it is a great honor to appear before you today as President Obama's nominee to be the assistant secretary for environmental management at the Department of Energy. I thank President Obama and Secretary Chu for their confidence. I also thank the committee for considering my nomination.
In 1961, when my parents fled Cuba's Communist regime and went into exile with a three-year-old daughter and nothing but their dreams for a better life and their love for freedom; it would have been impossible to believe that their daughter would ever be nominated by the president of the United States to serve this great country. My parents and I are proud to be naturalized citizens of the United States; and are humbled by the honor of my being here today. The pride that we feel has only served to deepen the great love that we have for this country, and the admiration and respect that we have for the American people.
That a girl born in Cuba was welcomed in Puerto Rico, encouraged to study math and science, received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Miami, was recruited by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and mentored by giants in the field of nuclear science; was asked to direct the beginning of the operational phase of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the only nuclear waste repository of its kind in the world; was promoted to the top career position in the Department of Energy's Environmental Management Program, the most complex nuclear cleanup in the world. And is now being nominated to direct cleanup is something that only happens in America.
Mr. Chairman, if I am confirmed to this position, I will work closely with you and with all of Congress to address the many local, state, regional and national issues that we face within the Environmental Management Program. I commit to informing and consulting with Congress, the tribal nations, the states, our regulators, our stakeholders, and individual concerned citizens..
As I address you today, I want to affirm my commitment to safety, the safety of our workers, the safety of the public, and the safety of our environment. Safe operations and cleanup is our ever present and ultimate goal. I come before you today with a unique understanding of the complexity and magnitude of the task that we face. I have first- hand experience in every aspect of environmental management. And I have dedicated my life to the successful cleanup of the environmental legacy of the Cold War.
While we have made significant progress in the Environmental Management Program, I recognize the enormity of the remaining effort and the technical challenges that we face. I am eager to use science and technology, robust project management and our intergovernmental partnerships to reduce the cost and schedule of the remaining program.
As the committee is aware, the Environmental Management Program has come under considerable criticism for the execution of its projects. Under my leadership as acting assistant secretary, aggressive efforts are underway to transform the Environmental Management Program into a best-in-class project management organization. I commit to you that if I am confirmed, I will work tirelessly to make this effort successful and to continue to improve the Environmental Management Program.
I would like to thank Congress for including $6 billion of funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for environmental management. This funding will save and create jobs quickly for shovel-ready work that is essential to our strategic objectives to reduce the footprint of the legacy cleanup complex. I recognize that disciplined management and oversight of these funds will be critical to our success. I pledge to work with other offices in the Energy Department and the Congress to ensure that we meet this challenge.
I have a long history of demanding excellence from my team. Nothing less than performance that results in delivering our projects on time and within cost will be acceptable from the Environmental Management federal team and our contractors. Should I be confirmed, I will use every available tool to ensure the successful performance of the Environmental Management mission -- relentless focus on performance, utilization of science and technology, hard work, staff professionalism and competency, transparency and accountability. These would be the cornerstones of my tenure if I am confirmed.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I would be honored to serve this country that I so deeply love. As a Latina, I embrace the responsibility of excelling. And if confirmed, I will do everything in my power to meet your highest expectations. I will be pleased to answer your questions.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you very much.
Ms. Tompkins, go right ahead.
MS. TOMPKINS: Chairman Bingaman and members of the committee, I am honored to appear before you as President Obama's nominee to be the solicitor of the Department of the Interior. I ask for your consent to his nomination. I thank you for providing me with the opportunity to present to you my background and qualifications for this position.
For the past year, I've been a stay-at-home mom and I've taught a seminar at the University of New Mexico, School of Law. For the majority of my career, I have served in the public sector. I have represented the United States and the state of New Mexico. I also have represented various Indian tribes and pueblos. I have expertise in the areas of environmental law, natural resources, water and Indian law; as well as experience in the areas of constitutional law, administrative law and the legislative process.
I have considerable litigation experience as well. I also have the experience of serving as a political appointee at the highest level of the state of New Mexico government. As chief counsel to Governor Bill Richardson of the state of New Mexico, I was responsible for advising the governor on all legal matters as well as managing a legal team in overseeing the general counsels in 31 state agencies. From this experience, I understand the importance of providing unbiased and intellectually honest advice to a chief executive and to governmental agencies.
I believe in working in a collaborative fashion among the interested parties, affected communities, experts and elected officials to learn the best solution to often difficult and complex issues. If I am confirmed, I will bring these experiences and values to the position of Solicitor. I understand that the Department of the Interior presents its own unique set of challenges with the balancing of competing interests is a frequent occurrence and the multitude of issues can be staggering at times. I am prepared to take on these challenges. I have and will always have an open mind, a strong work ethic and a commitment to providing the best legal advice to my client and to my country. I also will have the benefit of working with the exceptional attorneys in the Solicitor's office.
On a personal note, I was born on a Navajo reservation to a family that was burdened with the social ills of alcoholism and poverty. When I met my birth mother, she told me that she did not want me to grow up in that situation and that was why she gave me up for adoption as a baby. I was fortunate to be placed with wonderful, caring parents who raised me in southern New Jersey. It is far from Indian country, but I never forgot where I came from. At times it was difficult being a Native American without a culture or a community. I distinctly remember visiting the Natural History Museum here in Washington, D.C. as a young child and seeing the display of Navajo Indians behind a pane of glass. I wanted to climb into the scene spread out before me and become a part of it, but at the same time I felt like it was foreign.
It was the support and love and guidance of my parents that allowed me to navigate this world and find my place in it. I attended Dartmouth College in part to join the Native American student program and learn more about my heritage. As a young adult, I reconnected with my roots and lived on a Navajo reservation. I learned about my Navajo culture, which at its core stresses the importance of living in harmony with the earth. I went to law school after practicing in the Navajo tribal courts as a lay practitioner, an opportunity provided to tribal members who pass the Navajo bar exam.
It is because of this experience that I am able to adapt and exist in different worlds. AS a lawyer, I am able to inhabit these worlds with a duty and purpose. It would be the greatest honor and a privilege to serve the United States as Solicitor of the Department of the Interior. Thank you, Chairman, for the opportunity to testify before you and all of the committee members today. I stand ready to answer any questions you may have.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you very much. Mr. Harris, go right ahead.
Mr. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for considering my nomination and for the opportunity to appear before you today. I'd also like to express my sincere appreciation to President Obama for his confidence in nominating me to be general counsel of the Department of Energy and to Secretary Chu for asking me to serve as counsel of the department. I am most honored to be here today.
Mr. Chairman, I've practiced law in Washington for 33 years. I've been a partner in three law firms. I have worked for a federal judge and for two federal government agencies. I have more experience than I sometimes like to admit to my younger colleagues with litigation, with administrative law, with trade law, and with national security law. I have earned every gray hair that I possess (laughter). But there are, I think, several benefits to having practiced law as long as I have in as many different substantive areas as I have and in so many different venues.
One benefit is that there are few problems I am likely to encounter that I've not seen before in one guise or another. While the words of the relevant statutes may vary, the key issues of statutory interpretation are remarkably alike.
A second benefit is that I have learned a deep respect for Congress and the laws it has enacted, including, critically, the Administrative Procedure Act, which provides the public with important safeguards against arbitrary government action.
Third, I know from both inside and from outside the government how important it is that agencies act within the law at all times in all things, whether large or small, and how important legal counsel is in ensuring that happens. I long ago learned that sometimes you have to tell clients what they might not want to hear. A good general counsel needs more than a good mind and good training. A general counsel must have the experience, the wisdom and, simply put, the backbone to provide, on occasion, unwelcome advice.
Finally, I've learned how important it is for government agencies to have open lines of communication with the Congress. If confirmed, I promise I will be available to you and your staffs whenever and wherever you think I can be of assistance.
In summary, I hope to bring to the Department of Energy a wide range of experience that will allow me to provide informed, direct and clear advice and, above all, advice which is faithful to the laws that Congress has enacted. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you and the committee once again for this opportunity to appear before you, and I am prepared to answer any questions you may have for me. Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you all for your excellent testimony. As I said in my opening statement, I support each of your nominations. I think the president has chosen well and Secretary Chu has chosen well and Secretary Salazar has chosen well, so I commend you for taking on these difficult jobs. Let me call on my colleagues who may have questions at this time, andSenator Bennett.
SEN. BENNETT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to all of you for your willingness to serve in the federal government, which is not the most financially remunerative thing you could do, but I'm impressed by the fact that you are all excited about the challenge. And I have more particular questions for most of you, but I've already warned the next solicitor that I'm going to have a conversation with her. So let's get to it.
I want to thank you again for coming in to see me this week and giving me an opportunity to outline for you some of the issues that we have. I'll submit some questions for the record, but here today I want to focus my time on the very controversial issue of wilderness in Utah, particularly the wilderness settlement between the United States of America and the state of Utah. Perhaps we are blessed in Utah with the most beautiful wilderness available, or we're cursed with the most beautiful wilderness available because we seem to be ground zero for the wilderness debates that are going on. So, as a consequence, Utah public lands have been studied to death for wilderness going all the way back to the Carter administration.
Environmental groups tell the story of wilderness quality lands disappearing at record rates to OHBs and oil and gas development and so on, and while they say that, their proposals for wilderness have gone from 4.7 million acres, which was a factor in my senate race in 1992, when my opponent introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to create 4.7 million acres and as the public responded to that backpedaled from that, and at one point in one of our debates said, "I never said 4.7 million was the right number." And I had to remind him that he had introduced a bill to that effect in the Congress of the United States, to which he then tried to down pedal.
Now their proposals have gone from 4.7 to 5.7 to 8.4 to 9.1 and currently stand at 9.4 million acres in the latest proposal. Now, FLPMA has a five point process as to deal with wilderness; number one, conduct an inventory. Number two, conduct a wilderness review of the inventory and establish what are known as wilderness study areas. Number three, report the recommendations to the president. Number four, the president reports a recommendation to the Congress and the point that everyone must remember, number five, Congress is the only entity that can designate wilderness, the only entity under the law. All of the rest of this is advisory. Congress is the only entity.
Well, the wilderness study area, once it has been designated and recommended, is managed as if it were wilderness awaiting congressional activity and what we have seen out of the Bush -- out of subsequent Departments of Interior is that they are willing to lock up BLM as study areas and thus create de facto wilderness and then the environmental groups block the Congress in every effort to designate wilderness, so they have created de facto wilderness with WSAs and the Congress has been unable, for a variety of reasons, to designate wilderness. We've finally broken through that after more than 15 years with the designation of wilderness in the Washington County, one area of Utah, and it's very interesting that many of the environmental groups that fought us tooth and nail up to 48 hours before the chairman ultimately submitted the bill that included solution of the wilderness area in Washington County now claim credit for it and say isn't it wonderful that we have done a great job of creating this wilderness.
They didn't want the bill passed because they want the WSAs maintained as de facto wilderness forever and previous Departments of the Interior have designated WSAs in inventory that goes beyond the FLPMA process and now are managing those as wilderness. Do you see where I'm going? As a lawyer, you should understand that this is a significant way of getting around the law. The United States and Utah, there's been a legal case, there's been a lawsuit. A federal judge has issued his opinions, and the U.S. government and Utah have entered into a settlement agreement with respect to that, and you are going to be the solicitor that's going to have to defend that agreement because environmental groups are trying to overcome it because of the history I've just described.
They're going to try to say, no, no, no, the Secretary has the right to conduct an inventory outside of the FLPMA process approved by Congress. The key issue in that lawsuit was once the FLPMA process approved in the Carter administration had expired, could the secretary continue to designate WSAs and the federal judge said no. Once that had expired, Congress had acted, the secretary didn't have the right to go beyond the time period given him for the inventory and the designation, and you're going to have to defend that lawsuit. You're going to have to defend that judge's opinion, and we need to know your legal approach to this kind of thing. My question quickly, as my time is gone, but I'll just run through them and then you can respond as you wish.
Do you agree that the Department's authority to establish new wilderness study areas under §603 of FLPMA expired on October 21st, 1993, which is the period of that first inventory conducted in the Carter administration? Do you agree that the Department has no authority to establish new WSAs post §603 WSAs under any provision of federal law? And do you agree with the federal judge, Dee Benson, that the settlement agreement between the state of Utah and the United States is consistent with FLPMA? And, finally, does the BLM have authority to apply the non-impairment standard as enumerated in the Interim Management Plan for Wilderness Study Areas, the lands that are not designated as WSAs under §603?
These are the four core questions going to this issue, and again, at the risk of taking too much time, I see a deliberate strategy on the part of groups that are not satisfied with what comes out of the inventory under FLPMA of saying we will get a friendly secretary to designate something as a WSA and then, recognizing that only Congress can resolve this issue once it's designated and being managed as a WSA, we will do everything we can to prevent Congress from acting so that we can get de facto what we could never get under the legal process as established by the Congress. That's the issue.
You can respond here, now, if you like or you can respond in writing, as you like, but I wanted to get all of that on the record very clearly so that we understand where we are on this most contentious issue in what I maintain is the most beautiful state in the union. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MS. TOMKINS: Chairman, Senator, I appreciate your comments and it is a new area for me, this particular settlement involving Utah and the Department and these wilderness issues, so I do feel it would be premature for me today to respond to them, but I would certainly look at those issues carefully if I were confirmed and work with the Department and the Secretary and analyze all of the applicable legal requirements involving the designation of wilderness areas, so I would look at the issue closely if I were confirmed and in the position of solicitor. So thank you for your comments.
SEN. BENNETT: Thank you. I look forward to working with you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Shaheen.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, all of the panelists. We very much appreciate your willingness to serve the country in the positions for which you've been nominated. I'd like to particularly thank Ms. Tomkins and Mr. Harris for recognizing Dartmouth College, and for all you young people in the audience, think about Dartmouth as you're looking at colleges.
And certainly would disagree with Senator Bennett about Utah being the most beautiful state in the country. We obviously vie for that position, but I'm going to give you a pass, Ms. Tomkins, after those questions -- (laughs) -- from Senator Bennett. I think you need a rest to think about those, and I'm really going to focus first on the remaining members of the nominees because you're all going to be in the Energy Department and the energy issues that we're facing in the country are going to be very complex. We're going to be looking at energy from a variety of perspectivesnew technology, how it affects our need to address climate change, and so I guess my question for all of you in the Energy Department is how you see collaborating and cooperating around the very complex issues you will be addressing in a way that can make the Department as efficient and effective as possible.
MS. TOMKINS: Senator, may I respond?
SEN. SHAHEEN: Please.
MS. TOMKINS: Well, thank you very much for that question. I really think that is the key question in that the problems that we face are very complex. They require a systems integrated approach and I think you heard from my colleague, the undersecretary for science, that one of the things both of us, being provosts or former provosts, that we understand that our job is to make the whole more than the sum of the parts, and the way you do that is to vigorously fund research and development that's focused on the system, the outcome and the goals and then work back the kind of programs you need to put in place so that you can take the breakthroughs in research, in science, applied technology into deployment and ultimately commercialization to achieve the goals of providing for energy security, creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gases. Without that system integration, we can't do one or the other because they're so interconnected.
You can even see in the programs (there ?) within the technology that we can borrow things that are happening, for example in nuclear power fossil fuel, and apply them to energy efficiency in renewables and we're already seeing that even though we are not yet confirmed, but if confirmed, we're even going to explore that deeper.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Okay. Would anyone else like to respond to that?
MR. ??: Energy technologies are really very different than other technologies like biomed or IT. Energy is everywhere in society and so the changes that you try to make really affect many different folks. You need to worry about that. You need to worry about scale. To solve the problems that we're facingenergy security, greenhouse gas emissionswe need to look at technologies that can make a material difference. It's not enough to just solve a small piece of the problem.
In addition, because we already have sources of heat, light and mobility, new technologies have to compete against existing technologies, and all of these factors may change relatively slowly, but change will only happen if, as we do the science and technology, we pay attention to the economic, political and social dimensions.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Apropos of that comment, both Dr. Koonan and Dr. Triay have extensive knowledge of nuclear energy, and I would like to ask both of you what role you see nuclear energy playing in the future economy in the country, how you see it with respect to our need to address global warming, and what you think can be done with the waste. I was particularly interested in your comments, Dr. Triay, about dealing with some of the technologies in a way that could be helpful.
DR. TRIAY: Well, as Secretary Chu has said, Senator, nuclear energy will be part of the mix of the energy future of the United States. With respect to the waste, the department management office doesn't have responsibility for the commercial waste and nuclear fuel, but we do have nuclear fuel in the environmental management program and we have high level waste that comes from our defense mission.
With respect to technology development, we believe that it is essential, and in fact Secretary Chu has told me personally that he wants us to make an investment on ensuring that we reduce some of the costs associated with investment on ensuring that we reduce some of the costs associated with vitrifying the waste. We are placed to, in the nuclear field, put it in dry storage and with respect to the actual high level waste, we know, as you know, we vitrify the majority of our waste and we do that in a very safe configuration.
With respect to that vitrification process, we are looking very closely to work with some of our colleagues in Dr. Koonan's portfolio to look at better (melter ?) technologies, to look at ways to reduce constituents that would then allow us to maximize the waste loading and the production of gas in the vitrification plants that we have both at Savannah River and we will have at Hanford. So I assure you that Secretary Chu is very interested in transformation of technologies that actually can help us do our job more effectively and we will be working very closely with Dr. Koonan's colleagues to accomplish that.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Barrasso.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Ms. Tomkins, we had a chance to visit yesterday and a very productive, very fruitful meeting. Thank you so much for coming by.
Something happened since we met yesterday (and) that was that the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that there was no need to build new U.S. coal or nuclear power plants. This is since we visited yesterday. Mr. Wellinghoff went on to say that renewables like wind, solar and biomass would provide enough energy to meet base load capacity and future energy demands. This kind of flies in the face of the things that we discussed yesterday, where we discussed an understanding that American energy needsat this point we're using it all, and I'm just interested, given that the estimated increases in energy demand, the limitations of our transmission infrastructure and the need for power when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine, do you agree with Chairman Wellinghoff's statement or should we be taking energy generation options off the table at this point?
MS. TOMKINS: Thank you, Senator, for that question and thank you also for the time to meet yesterday. As we spoke, we need to have a comprehensive strategic energy plan and one of the first things, if confirmed, that I would like to work on with my colleagues and the secretary is to come up with a technology energy road map and put down what are the goals that we're trying to accomplish, which is securing our energy future, creating millions of jobs, as we discussed, and cutting greenhouse gases. Once we have that road map in place, then we can look at the portfolio of energy that we havecoal, nuclear, renewables, et cetera, and see how each one of those will contribute, along with what I think is most important because it is the low- hanging fruit, is conservation and efficiency, and I think that there are a number of gains that can be made in the short term as we bring on carbon capture and sequestration with coal, as we restart the civilian commercial nuclear industry and some of these other areas that we'll be able to address the overall challenge of the three goals that I mentioned.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you.
MS. TOMKINS: Thank you.
SEN. BARRASSO: Ms. Tomkins, I wanted -- and I have a couple, Mr. Chairman, questions to submit in writing, and I just wanted to visit with Ms. Tomkins. Long before you or I ever got here, there was an issue of Washington owing Wyoming hundreds of millions of dollars from abandoned mine land funding. It's Wyoming's money. This has been collected and held in Washington for a long time.
In 2006, after decades of bipartisan effort, an agreement was found and signed into law to guarantee that states like Wyoming that were owed money would finally be paid without strings attached. President Obama and Secretary Salazar both voted for the bill. It's been signed into law and they voted for it when they were in the senate. The bill required certified states or Indian tribes to be paid back money owed in seven equal installments. I quote. This is the law. "The secretary shall make payments to states or Indian tribes for the amount due for the aggregate unappropriated amount allocated to the state or Indian tribe under sub-paragraph (a) or (b), section," and it goes through the section numbers of this title. It says, "Payments shall be made in seven equal annual installments beginning with fiscal year 2008."
Well, the interior solicitor before you came to a different conclusion, stated that what Congress meant was that the funds must be paid back in the form of a grant and not in seven equal installments. I'd like to know your understanding of seven equal installments, as well as whether you agree or disagree with the fine votes cast by President Obama and Secretary Salazar prior to their new positions in government.
MS. TOMKINS: Senator, thank you for this question. I have to say that I don't today have an opinion on the issue, that it would be a new issue for me, and I would have to look at it more closely before I could give you a definitive response, And that's the best I can do today.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll submit some questions in writing. Hopefully, you'll have a chance to take a look at this, but it seemed very clear to people on both sides of the aisle what this meant, but then a previous administration and in a previous solicitor came up with an idea that, really, I don't think anybody in the senate had anticipated, so I hope that you see it the same way that we do. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Thank you. Senator Cantwell.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to working with all the nominees in their important capacity in both agencies. Ms. Triay, thank you for your visit to my office. We had a chance to talk about some of these issues and for your compelling personal story, as well. First of all, it's great to see so many women in the fields of math and science. I hope that you can help us in recruiting more into the field, but obviously one of the most urgent needs is Hanford cleanup and the 53 million gallons of radioactive waste that is stored in underground storage tanks, 67 of which have been confirmed to be leaking and reaching ground water, plumes that are moving towards the Columbia River.
We had a chance to talk about this, but the Department of Energy is obviously missing the milestones for the cleanup of Hanford and the tri-party agreement, and so getting into compliance is obviously a big part of the concerns that we have, and so I have a couple of questions about that. First of all, do you think that there's adequate storage space in the double shell tanks to safely retrieve the waste until the waste plant is fully operational?
MS. TRIAY: Senator Cantwell, thank you first off, thank you for your leadership in the Hanford cleanup. We could not be where we are today and have a fast forward without your leadership.
With respect to the double shell tanks base, I feel strongly that we need a systems plan analysis on an annual basis to ensure that we make the decisions as to whether or not we need additional tank space, a systems plan that takes into account every cubic liter of the waste in those tanks. I have been working with the field office as well as the state, and I assure you that part of that systems plan will be to address exactly that question. Do we need further tank space and if we do, obviously we will press forward at fulfilling that need.
Of course, we will try to make every effort to prevent having to build more double shell tanks that then have to be cleaned up, but we assure you that that systems planning is going to be comprehensive, it's going to be done in a collaborative manner with the state that has excellent experts to assist us, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.
SEN. CANTWELL: And when would that be completed, do you believe?
MS. TRIAY: We are intending to have our first systems plan within this year. But, after that, that systems plan needs to be updated.
Both modeling efforts that take into account every single cubic meter of that tank waste has to be refreshed on a narrow basis at least.
SEN. CANTWELL: I'm sorry. What do you mean by that? I mean, obviously, the tanks are leaking and they're contaminating ground water, and so the annual analysis isn't so much the issue as a concrete plan to remove the tank waste until a reprocessing plant is up and running, which is not until -- well, hopefully, it'll be 2019. That's the goal. But --
MS. TRIAY: As you know, we are aggressively pursuing removing the waste from the tanks as we speak. We are removing the waste from the single-shell tanks and preparing them for when the -- tank comes aligned.
What I meant was that we can use evaporator technology to remove the liquid, so that we actually increase the tank space available in the tank farm. We already are looking at the integrity of the tanks to make absolutely certain that we do not have leaks that are going to compromise the environment.
And what I meant by a systems plan was that every time that that calculation gets performed, that model of exercise gets performed, we have to make the decision as to whether or not we need to press forward with further tank space or whether we have enough tank space, given that we have evaporator technology, that we have renewable technologies, in order to be able to complete the cleanup and have enough feed for the waste-treatment plant when it comes on line in 2019.
SEN. CANTWELL: Will the $2 billion in added stimulus funds help expedite the goal of the ground-water contamination?
MS. TRIAY: Absolutely, Senator --
SEN. CANTWELL: The goal was originally 2015, and cleaning up that plume, what would it be with the $2 billion?
MS. TRIAY: We are, right now, as you know, with this particular stimulus package, we have gone out of our way to consult with the regulators as well as our stakeholders. So, right now, we are looking at what is the amount of acceleration that that particular -- Essentially, in this particular case, it's $1.961 million between the Office of River Protection and Hanford and what that would do to accelerate the groundwater.
We understand that our goal is to have absolutely no contaminants reaching the Columbia River. So a significant part of that $2 million is going to go towards that effort. And, in addition to that, Secretary Chu has asked us to invest in technology development to also deal with the groundwater, deal with barriers such as -- barriers, with minerals that can sort the contaminants, bioradiation. So I think that you're going to see a dramatic effort in making sure that contaminants do not reach the Columbia River.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Senator Stabenow.
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And welcome to each of you, and to your families. We thank you for your willingness to serve at a very challenging time. But this is also a time where we can make great progress in the country if we work hard and are focused. And I appreciate the president's visions in each of the areas that you are hoping to work in.
I wanted, specifically, Dr. Johnson, to thank you for the chance to have the opportunity to talk specifically about the loan programs and grants and how we move forward on technology and so on.
I wondered if you might speak about the president's targets for getting us to electric vehicles, one that I support strongly, his goal of putting one-million -- electric vehicles on the road by 2015. We've been working very hard on that.
Our recovery plan, of course, has the $2 billion investment in grants, and working with the chairman, his leadership on the finance committee, we've been able to add manufacturing incentives. And we're already, in Michigan, seeing the benefit of that by manufacturing facilities for batteries being announced. And in just a few months, we hope to see groundbreakings on those, which are very important.
I wondered if you might share with the committee how you view delivering on the president's goal, in terms of electric vehicles and the importance of having a domestic battery-manufacturing presence in the United States.
MS. JOHNSON: Thank you very much, Senator. And I, too, enjoyed our time of talk yesterday.
The president's goal is to have one million plug-in electrical vehicles on the road by 2015, I believe. And this will require a tremendous investment in infrastructure and components, so, as you mentioned, batteries. And, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we are funding programs in that area to look at batteries, to look at applications for storage and infrastructure so we can power vehicles.
It's a complex problem, and we have hundreds of millions of cars on the road today. We know how to build cares in this country. What we need to do, as we just talked, is leverage that expertise now to retool and be able to --it toward electrifying the fleet.
And, to that end, just, I think, two weeks ago, we announced $40 million in grants, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, towards different battery technologies, fuel cells, that was matched by $70 million from industry. And it is looking at programs in Arkansas and in Michigan with -- I think, Delphi issued a $2.8 million grant, again, to look at ways of leveraging what we have in place and to retool and to look at other manufacturers.
So I think promoting them, continuing to work together, integrating the basic and applied time towards commercialization and deployment is what we would be able to do and I do believe we would be successful.
SEN. STABENOW: Further on that point, as we had talked yesterday, I was pleased to champion Section 136 of the energy bill of '07, and, at that time, we focused on retooling, on getting the new technologies out and so on. And there was a $25-billion allocation set up for the fund.
President Obama has spoken about a $50-billion commitment through that fund, and I'm hoping that we can get to that point very, very soon. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about raising that number to the president's expressed number, as he talked about back in the fall.
And then, secondly, looking at Section 136 and the other loan guarantees and loan programs and grant programs, if you have any comments about what we had talked about yesterday as well with the different silos of these grants and loans, when it's so critical right now to get capital out to businesses.
I mean, there are hundreds of businesses in Michigan that are ready to take that next step on commercialization or be able to scale up right in the middle of the global credit crisis. And so these areas of creating capital become incredibly important, but it is complicated and confusing right now for businesses to -- which ones to apply to and how they're put together and how much of a loan and how much of a grant, and so on.
So, first, about the numbers and in terms of getting us up to the $50 billion that the president talked about in Section 136. But then, secondly, just the ability to move forward in a coordinated way with the current loans and grants that are available.
MS. JOHNSON: Well, thank you. First of all, the loan-guarantee program is critical towards moving new technologies forward. And I believe that two or three weeks ago or most recently, we had the first loan guarantee, what went out to Salindra (ph) for about $500 million for advanced -- systems, so the process is working.
I'm not familiar with the amounts, haven't had a chance to be briefed on that, but I look forward to working with you and this committee to see what would be the best mechanism to continue that program. And that would be if confirmed, of course.
SEN. STABENOW: Of course. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. BINGAMAN: Senator Bennett, did you -- questions? Senator Cantwell?
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to ask Mr. Harris a few questions if I could. It's good to see you here in this capacity for your nomination.
One of the big issues, obviously, has been Hanford and Rocky Flats lawsuits related to the Cold War radiation legacy of our nuclear program. And, obviously, for those who have been impacted, the downwind population, has been an ongoing case.
In fact, the energy department seems to have spent quite a bit of money -- more than $125 million in just the contractor legal costs. That is, this out-forced legal dispute -- I guess is the best way to characterize it -- has been going on for many years. And, in fact, it had one federal judge last March concluding that -- quote -- the financial cost of litigation is very high, and the court concludes that continuing to resolve the claims in this manner is not economical and is unacceptable.
So what are your thoughts about how we get out of this just basically continuing to have law firms making tons of money off of the Department of Energy on cases that probably should be settled?
MR. HARRIS: When I was a young lawyer, the senior partner I worked for and I admired the most said to me, you know, an okay settlement is better than the greatest trial. And that's my view of litigation in general. If solutions can be found that are acceptable to the parties, it is far better to do that and to attempt to do that than to waste years and enormous amounts of money on litigation. Not, maybe, the best thing for a litigator to say, but it's my view and has been for a long time.
I'm aware of the Hanford litigation, but because precisely it is in litigation it was impossible for me as -- not being an employee of the department to discuss it very much with people who were there because of the risk of learning confidential information at a time that would not be appropriate.
But I can promise you that if I am confirmed, I will, indeed, look at that litigation as one of the first things I do in the department.
SEN. CANTWELL: Can you send the committee a written summary of the findings and intentions regarding Hanford and Rocky Flat cases within 90 days?
MR. HARRIS: I would be pleased to do that.
SEN. CANTWELL: Okay. Thank you. And, obviously, you will be involved in the oversight and management of these cases.
MR. HARRIS: Absolutely.
SEN. CANTWELL: I mean, in the context of one of the concerns is that so much has been outsourced to an outside legal firm that they're calling the shots and making the decisions, and, obviously, if they can continue a case for now that's been more than a decade and continue to just make great fees off of the Department of Energy, then why not continue that --
MR. HARRIS: Having been in private practice as long as I have, I think I'm in a good position to review the practices of outside counsel.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you.
SEN. CANTWELL: Appreciate that.
Ms. Triay, actually, a question for you that -- definitely far easier than tank waste and groundwater contamination. The B Reactor has finally been designated as a national historical monument, and to -- I don't know if it's to our surprise, but I've visited the B Reactor and it's an incredible part of the history of our country. But we know that we are trying to make that more acceptable to the public, and do you have suggestions on how to do that?
I think the first set of tours that were assisted now last for the next year, sold out in less than 72 hours. It's like the hottest -- I mean, Ticketmaster's sales don't go as quickly as B Reactor. So what else can we do, given that it's on the Hanford reservation and that it's part of the complex?
MS. TRIAY: Well, thank you for that question, Senator. I really appreciate that question, because we are very proud of the fact that part of our history is being so well embraced by the public. And we are going to be spending $1.5 million, I believe, this year and about the same amount next year for safety and seismic upgrades to ensure that we can continue these tours and have the reactor well preserved.
In addition to that, we are going to be working very closely with -- in Philadelphia to see what can we do to increase the availability of these tours that are so popular and that, frankly, we are so proud, because they are such an integral part of our history.
SEN. CANTWELL: I have one question, too, for Ms. Johnson about the transfer of Hanford reservation property to -- Obviously, people are interested in reducing the size of the Hanford footprint. And so do you see any legal barriers to transfer or lease of land at Hanford to third parties to establish something like a clean-energy park or develop large-scale energy-related facilities?
MS. JOHNSON: Senator, I'm not familiar -- with the matter of the legal aspects of it, but, if confirmed, I'd be happy to consult with my colleague at the far end of the table to understand the issue in more detail.
SEN. CANTWELL: Ms. Triay, I know that the agency has some --
MS. TRIAY: We have some -- land transfers in other parts like Oak Ridge and like in Savannah River. So we would be working, again, with Mr. Harris, if we're confirmed, and his staff. And I assure you that we will find a path forward so that we can truly -- the benefits of -- reduction that the recovery act will gain us.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you. And I thank the chairman. I don't think there could possibly be a more important group of nominees for the State of Washington, -- literally, for the country -- given that Hanford is the largest cleanup site, probably in the world. Just happens to be in Washington State, but our obligations there are immense. So I thank the chairman and I thank the nominees for their willingness to delve into these issues.
SEN. BINGAMAN: Well, again, thank you all for being here. And we will allow members until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon to submit any additional questions for the record. If any are submitted, I hope you can respond quickly on those. And, if you can, then we can try to take action here in the committee on your nominations next week.
Thank you all very much. That'll conclude our hearing.