The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which will be considered in the Energy and Water Subcommittee tomorrow.
The legislation provides the annual funding for the various agencies and programs under the Department of Energy, including the National Nuclear Security Administration, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and various regional water and power authorities. The bill released today totals $30.6 billion -- a cut of $5.9 billion below the President's request and $1 billion below last year -- which brings the total cost of the bill to nearly the 2006 funding level.
"The programs and projects funded in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill affect every community in our nation, and many are essential to our safety and quality of life. The Committee has taken a hard look at each and every line in this bill to make sure that we are prioritizing taxpayer dollars in programs that have the most benefit to the American people, while cutting back funding for programs that we simply cannot afford or that are not performing up to snuff. In this time of budget crisis, we have to make tough, sometimes unpopular decisions to rein in budgets in order to get our economy back on track," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.
"This is a fair bill that recognizes the stark fiscal reality that faces our country. The subcommittee has worked hard to ensure that our highest priorities -- defense of our country and support for American innovation and competitiveness -- receive critical funding. At the same time, the recommendation cuts back on programs with large unspent balances, ensuring that every hard-earned taxpayer dollar will be well spent. This bill improves oversight of the agencies under the jurisdiction and rightly so to protect taxpayer money," Energy and Water Subcommittee Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen added.
A summary of the subcommittee draft of the fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill follows:
Department of Energy (DOE) - The funding for DOE within the legislation totals $24.7 billion - $850 million below last year's level and $5.9 billion below the President's request. Within these funds, priority was given to programs that support the nation's security and economic competiveness.
* Nuclear Security -- The bill provides a total of $10.6 billion for DOE's nuclear security programs, including Weapons Activities, Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. Counting additional funds reallocated to this account from unused prior year funds, funding for nuclear security will increase by $147 million over last year. Within this total, the legislation includes $7.1 billion to sustain the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile -- an increase of $195 million over last year's level. The funding will promote critical investments to modernize the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile and its supporting infrastructure in order to maintain our military readiness and ensure safe operations. Also, the bill trims spending by eliminating unnecessary activities and overhead costs -- resulting in $498 million in savings in various accounts compared to the President's request.
* Yucca Mountain -- The bill rejects the Administration's wasteful, partisan attempts to shutter the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository program and provides $35 million to support Yucca Mountain activities, including $10 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue their review of the license application. The bill also includes provisions to forbid the use of funds to close down the program.
* Science Research -- The bill includes $4.8 billion for science research, a slight reduction of $43 million below last year's level. This funding will help strengthen the nation's science and technology innovation by supporting basic energy research, development of high performance computing systems, and research into the next generation of clean energy sources.
* Energy Programs -- The bill provides funding to help create U.S. jobs and promote the nation's energy independence, including $1.3 billion -- $491 million below last year's level -- for programs to help lower the cost of renewable energy technologies and to develop new technology. The bill also includes $734 million for nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration activities to further the next generation of safe, secure, and economically beneficial nuclear power options while ensuring the safety and resiliency of our nuclear power plants. In addition, the legislation provides $477 million -- $32 million above last year's level -- for research and development to advanced coal, natural gas, and other fossil energy power generation technologies that produce more than 70% of the nation's current electricity. Finally, the bill includes $100 million to support the activities of the Advanced Research Projects Agency--Energy, and $160 million to support loan guarantees for innovative projects.
* Environmental Management -- Included in the legislation is $5.6 billion for environmental management activities -- a reduction of $101 million below last year. This includes $4.9 billion for Defense Environmental Cleanup to safely remediate sites contaminated by previous nuclear weapons production.
Army Corps of Engineers -- The Army Corps of Engineers is funded at $4.8 billion, a decrease of $89 million below last year's level and $195 million above the budget request. There are no congressionally earmarked projects within this bill.
The legislation advances American competitiveness and export ability by providing more than $1.75 billion for navigation projects and studies. The bill also supports public health and safety by funding flood and coastal storm damage reduction activities at $1.54 billion -- including $474 million for critical dam safety improvements.
The bill does not fund all of the presidentially requested projects for the Army Corps -- redirecting $59 million to navigation and flood control activities that will have a more immediate impact on job creation and the economy. Due to the large number of ongoing projects, the bill provides a limited amount of discretionary funding to continue essential flood control and navigation projects to be prioritized by the Corps. This additional flexibility will help address critical navigation and flood control needs across this country, while improving Administration transparency and maintaining Congressional authority over budget decisions.
Bureau of Reclamation - The legislation contains $934 million -- $161 million below last year's level and $117 million below the President's request -- for the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation. This funding is intended to help manage, develop and protect the water resources of the western states.