Thursday, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the Senate Budget Committee for addressing additional funding needs for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Environmental Management (EM) Program. Last month, Cantwell, joined by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Larry Craig (R-ID), Bob Corker (R-TN), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Gordon Smith (R-OR) sent a letter to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Ranking Member Judd Gregg (R-NH) requesting increased funding for the EM program in order to allow cleanup progress to continue.
Today, with the support of Cantwell's letter, Senator Murray, a member of the Budget Committee, helped secure an additional $500 million for the EM program. The $500 million increase brings the total EM program funding to $6.0 billion. For 2009, the program is proposed to be cut nearly $2 billion from its 2006 levels from $7.3 billion to $5.5 billion. The EM program was created in 1989 to safely manage the cleanup of nuclear weapons production sites, like Hanford, and focuses on completing clean up of these sites efficiently and effectively.
"For years, the Administration has talked about accelerated cleanup of waste at nuclear sites and not followed through. This is a step in the right direction to clean up these nuclear sites and keep our communities safe and secure," said Cantwell, a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
In 2003 and 2004, DOE announced plans to accelerate cleanup of smaller sites such as Rocky Flats, Portsmouth, and Fernald with a clear understanding that, once these sites were cleaned up, additional funding would be transferred and applied to the large complex sites such as Hanford, Idaho Falls, Oak Ridge, and Savannah River. This is, in part, because accelerated cleanup saves money over the long run.
Senator Murray, a member of the Budget Committee helped secure funding for the EM program.
"This is simply a matter of the federal government keeping its promise to the Hanford community," said Senator Murray. "While the administration has again come up short, the $500 million we added today will help fulfill a commitment we have to Washington and the other states that have sacrificed for the good of our nation."