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Conference Report On H.R. 3183, Energy And Water Development And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much as time as I may consume.

I rise in support of the Energy and Water appropriations conference agreement for 2010. I would like to recognize Vice Chairman PASTOR for his friendship and leadership--it has been a good working partnership--and all members of the committee.

I would also like to thank all of the staff on both sides of the subcommittee as well as in my office and his for their dedication and hard work. On the majority side, Taunja Berquam, the Clerk Bob Sherman, Joe Levin, James Windle, Casey Pearce, and Lauren Minto. On the minority side, Rob Blair and Kevin Jones. In my personal office, Katie Hazlett and Nancy Fox; and in Mr. Pastor's personal office, Rich Patrick. All of these individuals worked tirelessly to put together the product before us which meets the needs of every congressional district in the Nation.

Mr. Speaker, the conference agreement totals $33.465 billion, which is $928 million below the President's request, and $167 million, or 0.6 percent, above the fiscal year 2009 enacted level.

However, the conference agreement was preceded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other emergency stimulus appropriations for the fiscal year 2009, which gave more than $58 billion in new money to the agencies under our jurisdiction. In fact, nearly 39 billion new dollars alone went to the Department of Energy.

So while the growth from the fiscal year 2009 regular appropriation to this conference report is minimal, the Department of Energy is going to have a difficult time spending and accounting for all of the new money it has received.

However, Mr. Speaker, in general, this conference agreement is reasonable and balanced.

I do want to highlight one area in which I have significant concerns: the future of nuclear power in this country and what happens when political science trumps sound science.

During the Republican motion to recommit the House Energy and Water bill, my colleague from Idaho (Mr. Simpson) spoke eloquently about the perils of following the President's plan to terminate our current nuclear waste management plant at Yucca Mountain. My biggest regret with this conference agreement is that we were unable to overcome Senator Reid's influence, and consequently, the disposal plan is barely on life support.

The amount of funding in this bill for continuing with the Yucca Mountain license application is now half of what is requested, further delaying the progress on the establishment of a national nuclear waste disposal site.

And what will the results be of this decision? Spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste is being stored on site at 121 locations across 39 States. These are our States; they're our constituents. I am sure this fuel is safe where it is today, but I know many of our constituents want it stored somewhere where the environment will not be affected and where the material will be kept safely.

The President's and the majority leader in the Senate's decision will ensure that the fuel stays where it is for at least 15 or 20 years with each site bearing all of the major costs and responsibilities for management and security of the waste material.

Second, their plan will rob our country of potential jobs and tax revenue. These jobs range from Ph.D.s in physics to pipe fitters, from welders to plumbers. Operating nuclear power plants can sustain 700 permanent jobs while new plants generate as many as 2,400 construction jobs.

Currently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has applications for 26 new plants. That's at least 60,000 jobs at stake. I don't understand how the President can push for an economic revitalization and reduce carbon emissions while gutting the single technology which will help accomplish both of those goals.

Our constituents need these jobs and the clean power source that they create.

Third, killing Yucca Mountain would bring billions of dollars of liability against the Federal Government, anywhere from $11 to $22 billion. This is money which the Federal Government owes industry because we have failed to live up to our responsibilities. We've signed contracts with these companies to take the waste off their hands. And because of the political arrangement between the White House and the Senate leader, we have failed, taxpayers and ratepayers must now carry that burden for the foreseeable future.

These are not empty threats or dire predictions. They are facts. Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had a vote that basically denies the go-ahead for the construction of new nuclear power plants because of the administration's plans to terminate Yucca Mountain.

Those 54,000 jobs I mentioned earlier are on hold. The nuclear waste in our districts is still there and not going anywhere. The billions of liability that our children will have to repay? Well, that's another few billion on top of our current $1.6 trillion deficit.

The one bright side of the conference agreement is that we were able to keep the license application alive, but just barely. Until the American public wakes up to the pitfalls of this political arrangement between the White House and the Senate leader, we will all have to bear the costs.

With that said, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank Vice Chairman Pastor for his leadership and friendship. Overall, this is a great conference agreement, and I intend to support it, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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