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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. MATHESON. Mr. Chairman, in the report language from the committee report for this bill, the Appropriations Committee included some language talking about concern about the lack of remediation activity taking place around the country at various Department-sponsored facilities and small sites under the responsibility of the Department, and this is in terms of environmental cleanup for non-defense sites.

I share that concern, and the committee report language talks about having the Department not later than November 15, 2011, give a detailed plan on remediating these small sites.

Here is the issue. When you have some smaller sites that need to be cleaned up, you have your management infrastructure in place. We are spending money each year to maintain the management structure, but if you don't spend the money to actually do the cleanup, you just extend the life cycle of this project out year after year after year. I think if we focus on these projects and get them done by investing the funds to clean them up quickly, it is actually from a life-cycle basis better off for taxpayers.

Now, this is a tough bill to find a pay-for because overall--and I applaud the fact that we looked at reducing spending in this bill--but my suggestion is a modest increase in the non-defense environmental cleanup account of $10 million, which will bring the funding level to what it was in the last fiscal year. That is paid for by reducing by $10 million the National Nuclear Security Administration's weapons activity account, which had been plussed up $185 million in this bill.

There are a few of these sites around the country. They are smaller. There are some sites that are larger. I am not directing where this money goes. I am just trying to put money into the non-defense environmental cleanup account, hoping that since the committee indicated in its report language that it wants the smaller sites to move on a faster basis, that this funding could help assist in that effort. In my opinion, this is in the taxpayers' interest to do this.

Now, there are sites around the country. There happens to be one in my congressional district. It is in Moab, Utah. It is a facility where the Department of Energy has been cleaning up a radioactive tailings pile that is on the banks of the Colorado River. It is a pile where the environmental impact statement indicated that in the long term, it is a near certainty that this tailings pile would be flooded and flushed down the river. There are about 25 million users of this water downstream. There has been ongoing bipartisan agreement in the House of Representatives for years about the cleanup of this site.

And this is just one, and I think there are others that also are mandatory as well. Again, my amendment cannot direct it to one particular site, but I am suggesting that increasing funding by $10 million to bring the non-defense environmental cleanup account up to last year's level is a good thing to do. That's the purpose of the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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