July 17, 2009
House Passes Energy and Water Appropriations Bill - Votes to Oppose Adminsitration Stance on Yucca Mountain
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House today approved legislation to fund federal energy and water programs for Fiscal Year 2010 by a vote of 320-97. This bill includes funding for the 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 $33.3 billion in total funding, which is $46 million - or less than 1% - over last year’s level. Other non-defense related Appropriations bills this year will average an increase of 12%. However, these programs have benefitted from an overall increase of 185% over the last two fiscal years, including $50.8 billion under the recently enacted “stimulus” legislation.
House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis expressed concern about the ability of these federal agencies to appropriately spend these big increases, and noted the potential risk of improper or wasteful spending.
“It is essentially that we keep a close eye on the tax-dollars that are being spent on these programs. Our nation’s energy and water needs must being taken care of, but tax-payer dollars must be well spent and not lost in a bureaucratic black hole,” Lewis said.
Lewis noted that the bill falls far short in its recommendation for the Yucca Mountain Geological repository, but was satisfied the House voted overwhelmingly – by a vote of 30-388 - against the political decision by President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid to kill the program.
“I am pleased that House is on record to keep Yucca Mountain open. It’s now time to move beyond the rhetoric and get Yucca Mountain up and going for the sake of our clean energy future,” Lewis said.
Additionally, the bill fails to increase important loan guarantees to support a revitalized nuclear energy sector, and it cuts national security funding, calling into question our ability to increase nuclear weapons dismantlements while maintaining the reliability of our weapons.
However, while noting that these matters need to be corrected as the bill is negotiated with the Senate, Lewis indicated his support for the legislation’s balanced approach to funding key energy and water programs, especially those that seek to address our nation’s growing energy needs.
“In the middle of a recession, the last thing Americans need is gas spiking to $4 a gallon at a moment’s notice. This bill will help our economy rebuild on stable footing by encouraging investments to find and develop a wide range of energy sources here at home - so that we no longer have to rely on unpredictable foreign oil,” Lewis said.