Last week the House passed H.R. 2609, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014, by a vote of 227-198. The bill provides a total of $30.4 billion for maintenance of waterways, national defense, and energy development--including nuclear energy. The House also passed H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, known as the Farm Bill, by a vote of 216-208.
House Passes FY2014 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
Simpson says legislation supports nuclear energy
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined colleagues and supported the FY2014 Energy and Water Appropriations bill last week. The bill reverses some of the Obama Administration's cuts to nuclear energy and continues progress toward the development of new nuclear technologies, including those under development at Idaho National Laboratory. Simpson is a senior member of the Subcommittee, serving as one of its members for over ten years.
"The House passed a thoughtful bill addressing our country's energy needs while making difficult choices with taxpayer resources," said Simpson. "I am grateful that Congress continues to support nuclear energy and the mission of Idaho National Laboratory."
There were numerous amendments offered to the bill including Amendment #1 by Representative James Moran (D-VA). This amendment would have altered the language in the bill that protects the authority of states by preventing the Army Corps of Engineers from expanding its regulation to include intrastate bodies of water under the Clean Water Act for any reason other than drinking water uses. Simpson spoke on the House Floor against the amendment and encouraged colleagues to vote against it, and the amendment was defeated with a final vote of 177-236.
"I'm pleased this amendment failed. Deciding how water is used should be the responsibility of state and local officials who are familiar with the people and local issues," said Simpson. "If all intrastate waters are regulated by the federal government, the language could be broadly interpreted to include everything within a state, including groundwater."
The fiscal year 2014 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill included $656.4 million for the DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy and $94 million for Idaho National Laboratory Safeguards and Security. The combined total of these numbers, $750.4 million, represents an almost $15 million increase over the President's FY2014 recommendation of $735.5 million and a $38.5 million reduction from the FY2013 funding level. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the $750.4 million allotment include:
The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at Idaho National Laboratory, is funded at $181.6 million -- a $28.5 million increase over FY2013 funding levels;
The Advanced Reactor Concepts program, which includes funding for fuel qualification associated with the Next Generation Nuclear Plant, is funded at $45 million;
The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program, including the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility at the INL, is funded at $66.7 million;
Reactor Concepts Research, Development; and Demonstration is funded at $86.5 million;
Fuel Cycle Research and Development is funded at $91.1 million; University Research Programs are funded at $5.5 million;
Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $110 million;
The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which promotes the continued safe operation of America's existing nuclear reactors, is funded at $21.5 million.
The bill also provided $368 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with Idaho National Laboratory. The funding level of $368 million is an increase of $3 million above the President's request and allows the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue.
Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $30.4 billion dollars for the functions of the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and a number of independent agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration. This level of funding represents a reduction of $2.9 billion below the FY2013 amount and $4.1 billion below the President's request.
"There is no denying the fact that declining budgets and sequestration have had an impact on almost every program and institution in this bill, including Idaho National Laboratory," said Simpson. "However, I am pleased to see the direct impact on nuclear energy has been minimized and that progress on nuclear energy research and development will continue under this bill."
The bill passed the House with a final vote of 227-198 and will now be considered by the Senate.
Greg Walden, Mike Simpson lead meeting with FDA to voice concerns about new water quality rules affecting fruit and vegetable growers
U.S. Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) last week led a meeting with other members of Congress and top officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to directly convey concerns they have heard from Oregon and Idaho onion farmers and fruit growers about new water quality rules that could cripple family farms nationwide.
Walden and Simpson invited the FDA officials to travel to Oregon and Idaho, and the officials are planning a trip to Oregon, Idaho, and Washington next month to hear from Northwest growers first-hand.
"When I heard concerns from eastern Oregon farmers, particularly onion growers, about new water quality rules the FDA is drafting, I asked for a meeting with the agency to air these concerns directly. I'm pleased that the agency has agreed to work with farmers as the rules are drafted, and that they are willing to travel to eastern Oregon and Idaho to hear from onion producers and other growers there directly," Walden said. "A practical, common-sense rule will help achieve the goal of greater food safety without placing unnecessary regulatory burdens on American farm families that could drive them out of business."
"I'm greatly concerned about the impact the FDA's proposed rule will have on agriculture in Idaho," said Simpson. "With an administration that seems to issue an abundance of rules and regulations for all industry, it is especially important that we seek input from Idaho producers to ensure that we reach an effective and sensible solution."
The FDA delegation was led by Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine. Other members of Congress present included Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), and Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.).
On June 21, Walden traveled to Nyssa, Ore. and met with onion growers who are concerned that the new regulations, as currently drafted, could force them out of business. Additionally, Walden has heard similar concerns from apple and cherry growers in the Columbia Gorge.
Many farmers have pointed out that the proposed rule lacks common sense and a crop-specific approach, resulting in many of the proposed provisions being unworkable in the field, literally speaking. Walden and Simpson have heard from growers who are worried that grouping over 200 crops together in one category fails to account for differing risk profiles and production practices, which has led to the proposed requirements that may be unworkable for particular crops.
Simpson Statement on House Passage of Farm Bill
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson last week released the following statement regarding House passage of H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The bill passed with a final vote of 216-208.
"The certainty a farm bill provides to Idaho's farmers and rural communities is critical to the economy of our state," said Simpson. "I am encouraged by these developments and hopeful that Congress has taken a step toward more certainty for farmers and greater savings for taxpayers. I hope the House and Senate can reconcile their two versions quickly and put a new farm bill place in the next few weeks."
At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a full-committee markup of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for FY2014; and the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014.
MONDAY, JULY 15TH
On Monday, the House will meet in pro forma session at 10:00 a.m. No votes are expected.
TUESDAY, JULY 16TH
On Tuesday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 2576 - To amend title 49, United States Code, to modify requirements relating to the availability of pipeline safety regulatory documents, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
2) H.R. 1848 - Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
3) H.R. 2611 - To designate the headquarters building of the Coast Guard on the campus located at 2701 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue Southeast in the District of Columbia as the "Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building", and for other purposes (Sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
WEDNESDAY, JULY 17TH
On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
H.R. 2667 - Authority for Mandate Delay Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tim Griffin / Ways and Means Committee)
H.R. 2668 - Fairness for American Families Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Todd Young / Ways and Means Committee)
THURSDAY, JULY 18TH, AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
Possible Consideration of H.R. 5 - Student Success Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. John Kline / Education and the Workforce Committee)
Possible Consideration of H.R. 2397 - Department of Defense Appropriations Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. C.W. Bill Young / Appropriations Committee)
In the News
FDA hears farmers' concerns on proposed ag water rules
By Sean Ellis, Capital Press, July 10, 2013
Idaho and Oregon farmers' concerns about proposed new agricultural water quality rules got an airing on Capitol Hill today.
During a July 10 meeting with top FDA officials, six U.S. congressmen relayed concerns from onion and fruit growers about the negative impact the agency's proposed rules could have on farmers.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who set up the meeting, said Food and Drug Administration officials agreed to work with growers to address those concerns. They also agreed to travel to Idaho and Oregon next month to hear directly from farmers.
"They were very open to hearing our concerns," Walden said.
Snake River Produce Manager Kay Riley, who is helping lead the onion industry's effort to counter the rules, said he welcomed the FDA's visit so onion growers can "let them see first-hand the conditions we face."
The FDA has proposed food safety rules that would govern how much bacteria can be in agricultural water. The rules would require any farmer who grows fresh produce that can be consumed raw to test the water weekly during growing season.
If the water surpasses a certain threshold for bacteria, the farmer could not use the water, and there is currently no process to obtain an Environmental Protection Agency permit to treat the water.
Walden pressed for the face-to-face meeting with FDA officials after he met with Riley and other onion industry leaders in Nyssa, Ore., June 21. Growers showed Walden first-hand how the proposed rules could affect their industry.
"They impressed upon me the problem we face in the Treasure Valley if these rules get written inappropriately," Walden said. "We want common-sense food safety regulations, not regulations that shut down agriculture."
Walden said he has heard similar concerns from apple and cherry growers in the Columbia Gorge.
Idaho Water Users Association Executive Director Norm Semanko told onion growers July 10 that surface water supplies in the area cannot meet the proposed standards.
FDA's proposed agricultural water standards are the same as those for recreational water, he told growers during the Oregon State University Ontario research station's annual field day.
"I don't think FDA understands we don't deliver swimming pool quality water in our canals," he said.
He said farmers and those in the water delivery business will work together to submit joint comments on the proposal "so FDA understands all they are going to do is put a major segment of agriculture out of business."
"We're going to tell ... FDA why this rule will not work," he added. "The rule can't work because the standards cannot be met."
The meeting was led by Walden and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and included five top FDA officials, including Mike Taylor, the agency's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.
It also included Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees FDA.