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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment. The amendment offered by our colleague would cut nuclear energy research and development activities by 70 percent. It would all but eliminate this very critical program to our Nation.

Our bill provides the same funding level as last year, funding that is a critical part of our support for a balanced energy portfolio, protecting American manufacturing, and reducing reliance on foreign energy sources.

Nuclear power generates 20 percent of our Nation's electricity. It will continue to play a large role in the future, as our constituents look for reliable, inexpensive, and clean energy.

America invented nuclear power, but now other nations are mimicking our companies' designs and building them entirely within their own borders. We must drive the next generation of reactors, and that's what this program does, in addition to improving the reliability of our current nuclear fleet.

Through simulations, cooperation with the industry, and advanced research, the program develops next-generation reactors, such as small modular reactors and high-temperature gas designs, that are inherently safe and have even more substantial safety margins than today's reactors.

These new types of reactors can be wholly built here at home by American companies, by American workers. The gentleman's amendment would halt these efforts, lose the innovation and manufacturing edge overseas, and risk hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. I therefore oppose this amendment and urge the Members to do the same.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise in opposition to the gentlewoman's amendment.

My colleague's amendment would increase funding for ARPA-E to levels beyond what the program needs.

Our bill provides $200 million for ARPA-E because of its focus on energy security, American manufacturing and competitiveness and research to address gas prices; but we have continuing concerns that this program must not intervene where private capital markets are already acting. It must not fund work redundant with other programs at the Department of Energy.

ARPA-E is only 3 years old and is still proving itself. Given how we must spend tax dollars wisely, it would simply not be prudent to give this young program its highest funding level ever. This amendment would, unfortunately, do just that; therefore, I oppose it for that and for many other reasons.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

Our bill funds a truly all-of-the-above research approach for addressing future high gas prices by reducing oil imports, developing fuel alternatives, and reducing what Americans pay at the pump.

The amendment would eliminate, as we've heard, $25 million in our bill for an oil shale research program, an important component of our comprehensive approach. The United States has an estimate of 2 trillion barrels of resources in oil shale deposits. For some perspective, that's more than 10 times larger than the United States' estimated proven and unproven oil reserves, and roughly as large as the entire world's proven oil reserves.

But shale oil resources have been barely tapped worldwide because substantial environmental and technological hurdles prevent their extraction, and the fluctuating world oil prices prevent the sustained research needed to bring this resource to market.

Our bill provides $25 million for an oil shale research program to develop the technologies that can make our vast reserves competitive and environmentally sustainable for decades or centuries. If successful, the program could change the game completely. It could prevent future high gas prices and substantially reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

For these and many other reasons, I oppose the gentleman's amendment.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment, but I do appreciate my colleague's advocacy for removing uranium tailing at the former uranium ore processing facility in his congressional district, Moab, Utah, to protect the Colorado River and downstream water users.

There has been, as I'm sure he'd admit, tremendous progress at this site, where work was accelerated with an influx of $100 million from the stimulus bill, or the Recovery Act.

Our bill, for the record, fully funds the President's request for nondefense environmental cleanup. It provides $198 million to sustain ongoing cleanup projects. While this is a reduction from fiscal year 2012, it is a reasonable one considering the need to reduce overall Federal spending in our bill. Within that amount, the amount of funding for the Moab project, which my colleague is particularly concerned about, is sustained at $31 million, the same amount as in fiscal year 2012.

This amendment increases funding over the request and over last year's level for Moab. While many sites like Moab are struggling to reduce cleanup work following the Recovery Act, we simply cannot maintain these highly elevated funding levels. As an offset, this amendment proposes to take resources from important national security activities. It unacceptably strikes funding for priority investments in our nuclear security enterprise which is both urgent and long overdue. Thus, I urge Members to vote ``no'' on his amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak very briefly to associate my remarks with Mr. Dicks, Dr. Hastings, and Mr. Shimkus. I want to thank them for bringing this amendment forward to increase funding for license for Yucca.

This is a bipartisan effort. And it's not only bipartisan; the nexus is also support from authorizers and appropriators. So I'm highly appreciative of their initiative. I think it ought to be supported by all Members. I think we ought to move forward and send a message: we need to get Yucca open. This is a way to reclaim the $15 billion that's been put into that effort by keeping the license process open and above board.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentlewoman's amendment. Though less than last year's level, the $2.3 billion provided for defense nuclear nonproliferation already shows very strong support of our committee for nonproliferation.

Our bill fully funds the core nonproliferation programs to secure vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in 4 years. In fact, it goes further and provides an additional $28 million above the request for the international programs under what's called the Global Threat Reduction Initiative.

While I appreciate our colleague's support for these activities, there's simply no reason to provide even more funding. The international activities have been clearly laid out in the 4-year plan, which peaked in 2011. These activities are supposed to ramp down as we accomplish more and more projects abroad. The President's budget reflects that planned ramp-down.

This additional funding would just likely sit there unexpended. The National Nuclear Security Agency already has considerable problems getting other countries to follow through with agreements. The Government Accountability Office has confirmed that half of all the funding we provide each year is not spent. To use the words I heard a few minutes ago: the money is sitting there.

This additional funding is simply not needed, and I ask the Members to reject this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentlewoman's amendment. Though less than last year's level, the $2.3 billion provided for defense nuclear nonproliferation already shows very strong support of our committee for nonproliferation.

Our bill fully funds the core nonproliferation programs to secure vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in 4 years. In fact, it goes further and provides an additional $28 million above the request for the international programs under what's called the Global Threat Reduction Initiative.

While I appreciate our colleague's support for these activities, there's simply no reason to provide even more funding. The international activities have been clearly laid out in the 4-year plan, which peaked in 2011. These activities are supposed to ramp down as we accomplish more and more projects abroad. The President's budget reflects that planned ramp-down.

This additional funding would just likely sit there unexpended. The National Nuclear Security Agency already has considerable problems getting other countries to follow through with agreements. The Government Accountability Office has confirmed that half of all the funding we provide each year is not spent. To use the words I heard a few minutes ago: the money is sitting there.

This additional funding is simply not needed, and I ask the Members to reject this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment.

Assuring funding for the modernization of our nuclear weapons stockpile is the most critical national security issue in our Energy and Water bill. The Secretary of Energy must certify to the President that our nuclear stockpile is reliable. It's absolutely essential that these funds be put in the bill and kept in the bill.

With years of level funding, we have put off for too long the type of investments that are needed to sustain our nuclear capability as our stockpile ages. That's why the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review concluded that additional funding was essential to ensure that our infrastructure is adequately maintained and that our warheads receive the refurbishments they need to remain reliable and

effective. There has also been strong bipartisan support for carrying out the recommended increases in modernization funding.

This amendment unacceptably strikes funding for these priority investments, which are both urgent and long overdue. I strongly urge my colleagues to make defense a priority and to vote ``no'' on this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, respectfully, a mention was made of congressional earmarks. There are no congressional earmarks in the Energy and Water bill. This is a Presidential priority, but this is not a congressional earmark.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I rise in support of the gentleman's amendment and recognize his advocacy for nonproliferation.

I share my colleague's concerns about the National Nuclear Security Administration's management of the MOX fuel fabrication facility project. The latest Department of Energy report indicates that the MOX facility could take months, if not years, to complete and will exceed the current baseline cost by as much as $1.4 billion due to continued construction problems and creeping scope. So I'm pleased to support the gentleman's amendment.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman from New Mexico's amendment.

The bill before the committee provides a total of $4.9 billion for defense environmental cleanup activities at the Department of Energy. This funding sustains thousands of cleanup jobs, and I thank my colleague for his deep concern about supporting these programs and meeting our cleanup commitments.

Our bill makes several difficult choices to achieve our deficit-reduction goals, providing the necessary increases for our nuclear security programs while making targeted reductions to activities which can be deferred.

This amendment seeks to partially reverse that priority setting that we put in place. It targets vital nuclear security programs and shifts funds to non-security environmental cleanup that should be ramped back. The cleanup programs received an infusion of $6 billion from the Recovery Act--AKA, the stimulus--accelerating the scope of work and pace of cleanup at those sites. And while I would like to express my support for the cleanup, we cannot sustain that stimulus-level funding that we had so in the past.

The funding for Los Alamos--which my colleague is particularly concerned about, is extremely knowledgeable about, and is very, very concerned about--will actually increase by 45 percent, or $30 million, over last year's level. The 1.7 reduction to defense cleanup is a reasonable one in our bill.

Recently, we've been informed by the Department of Energy that the Department of Energy may miss a number of its cleanup milestones because they had been relying on receiving large funding increases year after year, an assumption that was overly optimistic in any budget environment. We cannot continue to shovel in funding to make up for poor planning. Instead, the Department needs to work constructively with its stakeholders to establish reasonable and sustainable plans for remediating these sites, which will still take another 20 to 30 years.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this amendment, and yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in reluctant opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

I want to thank my colleague from New Mexico, as I did Mr. Pearce, for his continued advocacy for the cleanup at Los Alamos. The committee is well aware of the increasing vulnerability of above-ground radioactive waste being stored at Los Alamos, and share the Members' concerns. As a result, our bill strongly supports accelerating the cleanup efforts there, providing a total of $215 million for cleanup at the site.

The bill increases funding $30 million, or 45 percent above the Fiscal Year 2012 level. That makes the increase for Los Alamos the largest site expenditure increase across all the cleanups in our bill. But understandably, of course, you'd like more.

We look forward to working with the Member to see what we could do to be of additional assistance.

I would be happy to yield to the ranking member for any comments he would make.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in reluctant opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

I want to thank my colleague from New Mexico, as I did Mr. Pearce, for his continued advocacy for the cleanup at Los Alamos. The committee is well aware of the increasing vulnerability of above-ground radioactive waste being stored at Los Alamos, and share the Members' concerns. As a result, our bill strongly supports accelerating the cleanup efforts there, providing a total of $215 million for cleanup at the site.

The bill increases funding $30 million, or 45 percent above the Fiscal Year 2012 level. That makes the increase for Los Alamos the largest site expenditure increase across all the cleanups in our bill. But understandably, of course, you'd like more.

We look forward to working with the Member to see what we could do to be of additional assistance.

I would be happy to yield to the ranking member for any comments he would make.

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