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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LUJÁN. Mr. Chairman, my amendment is similar to that of my friend from New Mexico. It would simply increase funding for the Defense Environmental Cleanup Act, specifically the NNSA labs, by just under $22 million to bring it up to the level of the President's request and decrease funding for the NNSA Office of the Administrator by the same amount.

I offer this amendment because, to put it simply, it's a more effective use of taxpayer funds for NNSA to remove dangerous toxic waste from their lab's property than it is to maintain the current levels of redundant oversight bureaucracy.

Last June, the Las Conchas fire burned 150,000 acres in my district in New Mexico and encircled Los Alamos National Laboratory. Had the fire burned contaminated areas on the lab property, a plume of toxic smoke would have threatened the health of everyone in its path. The lab has promised to clean these areas, many of which contain waste from, if you can believe this, Mr. Chairman, the Manhattan Project and Cold War weapons programs; but Congress must also fulfill its obligation to appropriate funds for the cleanup.

While the NNSA labs have pressing environmental issues that demand our attention, there has been increasing evidence that paring back the NNSA's Office of the Administrator could actually make the Agency and its labs more cost effective and productive. A recent report by the National Academies of NNSA's management of its laboratories concluded that the NNSA's oversight had become inefficient and a distraction from the labs' vital mission.

Following a series of hearings, the House Armed Services Committee added provisions to the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act that this body passed a few weeks ago to change NNSA's approach and reduce its personnel. This amendment is consistent with these provisions. If there are going to be fewer authorized NNSA personnel, then NNSA's funding should reflect that.

My budget-neutral amendment reduces outlays by $3 million next fiscal year by simply moving funds from the NSA regulatory arm to a place where they put boots on the ground and support cleanup.

And while I very much appreciate the work of the chairman and the ranking member and the entire committee in this for their commitment to cleanup, it's my hope, Mr. Chairman, that I be able to emphasize to our distinguished leaders managing the floor of the dire situation that needs attention in New Mexico and around the country.

Mr. Chairman, I urge adoption of this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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