October 1, 2009
Energy and Water Conference Report is Plagued with Irresponsible Spending and Flawed Policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House today will vote on the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations conference report, which will fund various agencies and programs under the Department of Energy including the National Nuclear Security Administration, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and various regional water and power authorities.
The bill provides $33.5 billion in total funding, which is $200 million - or less than 1% - over last year’s level. However, this is in addition to the more than $58.7 billion provided for these programs in emergency spending this year, most of which was included in the “stimulus” legislation. Overall, these programs have benefitted from an increase of more than 180% over the last two fiscal years.
“Shoveling billions of taxpayer dollars into the agencies in this bill – essentially doubling the size of their budgets in under a two years – will undoubtedly prime the pump for government waste as these bureaucracies struggle to find ways to spend it,” House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis said.
“A black cloud of unsustainable government spending and debt is already over our nation, and this over-spending Energy and Water bill will only exacerbate the problem,” he continued.
While the overall spending for these energy and water agencies and programs are far too high, Lewis also objected to the inadequate funding for nuclear weapons activities – just $4 million above last year which is far below inflation.
“Given the Obama Administration’s plan to reduce the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, we need to make sure that the weapons we have left are safe and reliable, especially at a time when new threats to our security are emerging around the world. The funding level in this bill is simply inadequate to meet this need,” Lewis said.
Lewis also opposed language and funding levels in the bill related to the licensing process and regulation of nuclear waste from domestic energy producers. A plan for handling nuclear waste is needed to begin construction of new domestic nuclear energy facilities. However inadequate funding in the agreement will essentially kill our country’s plan for spent fuel and halt the approval process for new nuclear power facilities. Over 50,000 potential jobs may be in peril.
“This agreement will put domestic nuclear energy at risk – which is exactly contrary to our national goals of rebuilding our economy and lessening our dependence on foreign oil. Ultimately, this bill will put a roadblock in our path to energy independence, halt job growth in the nuclear energy sector, and contribute to higher energy prices for all consumers in the future,” Lewis said.