Chairman Frelinghuysen Prepared Statement on FY 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill at Subcommittee Markup

Apr 18, 2012

I’d like to call the subcommittee to order.  

Before we get started, I would like to thank Mr. Visclosky and all members for their participation in putting this bill together and their participation in many oversight hearings. 
The bill for fiscal year 2013 totals $32.1 billion, $965 million below the request and $88 million above 2012.  

This last figure – the above 2012 part – is a little misleading. There were many rescissions that we took in 2012 that we can’t take this year. Setting those aside, the bill is actually $623 million below last year.  

Not surprisingly, we had to make some hard choices to reach that level, and I appreciate everyone’s help to get there. The recommendation continues to prioritize investments in our nuclear security enterprise, programs to address gasoline prices, and opportunities to advance American competitiveness, including the Corps of Engineers.  

The only significant account increases over last year’s level are to nuclear security and to rebalance energy investments into a true “all of the above” strategy.  We also redirect more appropriate funding to the Corps of Engineers.

Overall, security funding is increased by $275 million over last year. Weapons Program funding for fiscal year 2013 is at the request, although we do make some changes to increase funding for some priority programs, like the W76 life extension program. Funding for Nonproliferation, although below the request, actually increases for some core programs. $100 million is provided to support new uranium enrichment activities. 

All of our constituents are wrestling with how to pay for higher gasoline bills on limited budgets. This recommendation does not provide a quick-fix, since there is little these programs can do little to immediately raise the supply of fuel, or dramatically lower demand. However, by refocusing funds, the bill provides $1.01 billion – $36 million above fiscal year 2012 – to strengthen Department of Energy programs addressing the causes and impacts of higher gasoline prices in the future.

The Fossil Energy program is increased by $20 million over last year, or $207 million including rescissions. Within this level, the recommendation funds a new shale oil program to both increase the efficiency and improve the impacts of shale oil recovery. If we could fully use this resource, our country’s reserves could equal all global conventional reserves. This would make a major dent on oil prices, and reduce our dependency on foreign sources of oil.

Funding for American innovation and competitiveness also receives priority treatment. Within Science research, funding for the domestic fusion program is restored to last year’s level, and the international fusion program is increased to come closer to our commitments.
Nuclear energy is funded at last year’s level, an increase of approximately $90 million from the request. Within that level, the Small Modular Reactors program would receive $114 million in order to keep it on its five-year funding profile. 

The bill reduces funding for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to $1.38 billion, $428 million below fiscal year 2012 by reducing applied research and development which is closest to deployment. Some of us believe it is time to pull the government back a step from such strong involvement in the private sector.

The bill protects public safety and keeps America “open for business” by providing $4.8 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $83 million above the request and $188 million below fiscal year 2012.

As in fiscal year 2012, the bill maintains the Constitutional role of Congress in the Appropriations process by ensuring that all worthy Corps of Engineers projects have a chance to compete for funding. The bill provides $324 million in addition to the President’s requested projects, investing in navigation and flood control—the activities most critical to public safety, jobs, and the economy. As in last year, the Corps will have 45 days to deliver and justify its spending plan.  

The bill upholds historic cleanup responsibilities by funding Defense Environmental Cleanup at $4.9 billion, less than 2 percent below last year’s programmatic level.

I can’t let a markup go by without a word about Yucca Mountain. The policy implemented in the recommendation is that Yucca Mountain is the law of the land, and any efforts to move past Yucca Mountain require Congressional action. 

The recommendation includes $25 million to move the project forward, along with similar language as last year’s prohibiting activities which would keep the facility from being unusable in the future.

The recommendation denies funding for Blue Ribbon Commission activities which need authorization. Research and development activities which do not need authorization and are to support Yucca Mountain are permitted.

This policy will ensure that we keep Congress in the driver’s seat for nuclear waste policy, not the Administration. 

Again, I thank you all for your participation in this process, and I’d like to turn to Mr. Visclosky for any opening statement he may have.