Energy and Water Subcommittee Chairman Frelinghuysen Prepared Statement on FY 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Before Full Committee
"It is a high honor to present the fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water bill to you today. I would like to thank all the subcommittee members for their participation in putting this bill together and in the many oversight hearings we have held and our excellent staffs.
"The Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill supports programs critical to our nation’s security, safety, and economic competitiveness. I am under no illusions that the bill we bring forward today meets the every need of any member. For far too long, federal agencies have been assuming ever-increasing budgets, leading to programs with poor rationale and even less accountability. Those days are behind us now.
"The bill for fiscal year 2012 provides $30.639 billion, $1.043 billion below fiscal year 2011 and $5.9 billion below the President's request — bringing the total down to approximately the fiscal year 2005 level. There are no congressional earmarks in this legislation. Yet the recommendation clearly shows that strong fiscal discipline and strong national defense, and a strong economy, can be achieved together.
"The highest priorities are protected by supporting the Department of Energy’s national defense programs, and by preserving activities that directly support American competitiveness, such as water infrastructure and basic science research.
"The bill supports critical national security programs by providing $10.6 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, including $195.3 million above fiscal year 2011 for Weapons Activities to support modernization of the nuclear arsenal.
"Only in Washington could an increase of this magnitude be seen as a cut. Yes, Weapons Activities is below the President’s request – but his request included hundreds of millions of dollars for construction projects that are not ready to move forward, capabilities that are secondary to the primary mission of keeping our stockpile ready, and “slush funds” that the Administration has historically used to address its needs. The recommendation before you eliminates those weaknesses, and it is responsible.
"The bill also fully supports urgent, ongoing efforts to secure vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide, and the full request to design a new reactor for the replacement of the OHIO Class ballistic missile submarine.
"We’ve seen how catastrophic flooding can affect many lives locally and the economy nationally, and yesterday’s crisis could be anywhere tomorrow. Through hard choices and rigorous analysis, our proposal fills at least some of the holes in the Administration’s wholly inadequate request for the Army Corps of Engineers.
"The bill protects public safety and keeps America open for business by providing $4.768 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $195 million above the President’s request and $89 million below fiscal year 2011.
"In order to maintain the Constitutional role of Congress in the Appropriations process, funding for some Presidential projects and priorities has been reduced. Of course, the President’s priorities are important. However, so are those “life and safety” projects brought to the Committee’s attention by members of both parties.
"The bill makes funds available above the President’s request for navigation and flood control—the activities most critical to public safety, jobs, and the economy—and gives the Corps 45 days to deliver and justify its spending plan. This will give each project, whether in the President’s budget or not, the opportunity to compete for these funds, and ensure we understand how the Corps really develops its request.
"Science research at the Department of Energy strengthens American competitiveness and enables true breakthroughs in the energy sector, and the bill preserves strong funding for this program at $4.8 billion, just $43 million below fiscal year 2011.
"The bill also increases the number of ENERGY HUBS from 3 to 5, but requires the Administration to develop benchmarks for success for all hubs, and to terminate those that are not providing appropriate results.
"The Committee continues to support nuclear energy, providing $8 million above the request for ongoing research and promising new programs such as small modular reactors, which it funds at the request level.
"By reducing funding where stimulus funds are still available or where the private sector is able to invest without federal help, the bill reduces funding for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to $1.3 billion, $491 million below fiscal year 2011.
"The bill upholds historic cleanup responsibilities by funding Defense Environmental Cleanup at $4.9 billion, less than 1 percent below last year’s programmatic level, and includes language to curb the Department’s illegal use of uranium bartering.
"The bill provides $160 million to support loan guarantees while preserving existing loan authority.
"The bill includes $35 million to support Yucca Mountain activities, including $10 million at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and enforces stronger oversight of the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
"I want to take a moment to reflect on where we are on Yucca Mountain. Over the years, this Committee, in a bipartisan fashion, has been at the forefront of criticizing this Administration’s disdain for sound science and the hard-earned tax dollars of our constituents. Now, finally, the rest of Congress, and this nation, is joining the call.
"The GAO has issued a report saying there is no scientific reason for shutting down the project, and the Administration has even been forced to release its own scientific review finding that the science actually supports Yucca Mountain. Now, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s own Inspector General has released findings highly critical of the way the NRC Chairman has withheld information regarding Yucca Mountain from the public and his fellow commissioners.
"Our recommendation to you supports these findings, providing funding to keep Yucca Mountain going, and including language to ensure that political appointees at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can no longer use their insider position to play (political) games.
"Finally, this recommendation includes numerous steps, across accounts, to ensure that the Administration follows the will of Congress.
"It also includes new reporting requirements so the Administration must track, and show, that the investments we make in science and technology are effective uses of taxpayer dollars.
"It also calls on the Administration to aggressively terminate projects and programs which are not delivering results.
"We take seriously our responsibility to reign in federal spending in fiscal year 2012, and this Committee is at the heart of this effort. The recommendation before you today is built upon hard questions into politically popular programs, and focused cuts where the answers don’t hold up to scrutiny. This is the sort of analysis that will get our fiscal house in order. I’m proud of our recommendation, and I look forward to our discussion today.
"Again, I thank you all for your participation in this process."