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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Burgess-Markey amendment.

With all due respect to my friend from Ohio who said that this is a national security issue, the Department of the Navy has said they have enough material to last them through 2050.

We have plenty of time to start from scratch to bid the project out.

If the contention of our friends is that we must have a U.S. company that produces this material, then start the bid process today. We have until 2050. USEC has attempted for over 30 years to develop a centrifuge--and has yet to do it. They've had over $5 billion given to them. If they get this bailout, then they're going to continue operations with the request for another $2 billion.

At which point are we, the designated representatives of the people, going to stand and say that other people can do that? Right now, the Department of Energy is saying the only scientists in the country that we can fund are at USEC. I sincerely disagree with them. I do not believe that we should have foreign-owned corporations providing this material, but we have plenty of time now if we start.

We're told that we do not have the intellectual property if we somehow take the funds away, if we don't give them. What intellectual property is available when the company has spent $5 billion to create 38 machines, six of which have had catastrophic failures? One split the case, which stops the whole program because that would cause a leak of radioactive material.

It is time for the Congress simply to say what they want to go to bid and allow the best bidder in the Nation, the best developer, the best minds in the Nation, to come together and develop what we want. Stop funding a failed corporation that was at risk a month ago of being pulled off of the New York Stock Exchange, that has been downgraded. USEC had 90 percent of the world market. They had 90 percent of the U.S. market when they were given the company and privatized. They were given a billion dollars worth of tails. A billion dollars worth of product and 90 percent of market share, and they have squandered that market share down to 10 percent.

Several years ago, they put those tails on the open market and collapsed the uranium market. What valuable company sells the raw materials out the backdoor that they are given and collapses the world market? That's the company that I'm saying in the Burgess-Markey amendment simply doesn't get bailed out. The head of that company last year paid himself $5 million.

Taxpayer bailout dollars are going to pay the executives of this company elaborate salaries when they're not producing anything. If the company were as good at producing centrifuges as it is getting government handouts, they would have long ago succeeded in developing the capacity to make centrifuges. Other countries, other companies, other nations have centrifuges by the hundreds of thousands operating--and this Nation, after $5 billion, has 38 that don't operate.

Just stop the games. Stop the bailout.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I offer this amendment today which transfers funds from the Office of the NNSA Administrator and into the Defense Environmental Management Fund, a program which funds the cleanup of radioactive waste. This program is important to our defensive mission, our environment, and public safety.

The Defense Environmental Management Program has demonstrated success in solid waste disposition, soil and groundwater remediation, and facility decontamination and decommissioning, and will continue to do so with sufficient funding.

I would like to thank Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Visclosky for their hard work on this bill and for prioritizing this issue particularly. Unfortunately, the budget request from the White House did not accurately reflect the monetary needs to fully fund the project contained in the EM program. My amendment would simply put back $40 million into the Environmental Management Program, which would provide much needed relief to the already constrained budgets for these projects.

As we accelerate the permanent disposal of radioactive waste, we decrease downstream the long-term cost for security, storage, and providing a better, safer environment into the future.

Many of the storage sites that currently exist for radioactive waste sit aboveground and are threatened by tornados, earthquakes, and wildfires. As I'm sure most of you have seen this week, New Mexico is susceptible to wildfires that can be started at any moment, get out of control extremely quickly, and rage out of control for days.

Los Alamos is located in a forest area and is highly vulnerable. In fact, just a little less than 1 year ago, the Las Conchas fire burned around 150,000 acres of thick pine woodlands in the Santa Fe National Forest, which surrounds the lab complex in the adjacent town of Los Alamos. At one point, the leading edge of the fire was as close as 50 feet from the grounds, which contain thousands of outdoor drums of plutonium-contaminated waste. Until this week, the Las Conchas fire was the largest in New Mexico's history.

There is a similar story from the year 2000, the Sierra Grande fire. As a result, just this January, DOE and the New Mexico Environment Department entered into a consent order framework agreement to expeditiously address the highest risk waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The waste amounts to 3,706 cubic meters of non-cemented aboveground waste, and the agreement calls for the removal of this waste by June 30, 2014. This amendment will allow LANL to meet groundwater and surface water requirements, as well as ensure the health and safety of the New Mexico residents who live closest to the lab.

While the overall bill dedicates funding to LANL for this project, it still falls short of what is needed. Without full funding, projects like removal of the highest risk waste at LANL are in jeopardy.

Finally, I am transferring this fund out of the Office of the Administrator for NNSA. These funds are needed more in the field and less in Washington, which, as we know, could go on a strict diet.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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