House FY 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill: NNSA

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Publication date: 
20 June 2011
Number: 
74

The  Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill approved last week by the  House Appropriations Committee provides funding for the National Nuclear  Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency of the Department of  Energy.   NNSA was established in 2000.

As  previously noted, total proposed funding in the FY 2012 appropriations bill is  down 3.3 percent or more than $1 billion from this year.  The $30.6 billion bill is approximately 19  percent less than that requested by the Obama Administration.

There  are many pages of language in the committee report  regarding  Atomic Energy Defense Activities that accompany the committee’s bill.  This language can be found starting on page  120.

In  the introductory section of the report, the committee provides its perspective  on National Defense Programs:

“The  origins of the Department of Energy are in the Manhattan Project and the  development of the first atomic bomb, and the Committee considers the  Department’s national defense programs,       run  by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), to be its core mandate.  Although having the funding for nuclear weapons and naval reactors in the  Department of Energy instead of the Department of Defense has been, at times,  complicated, the Committee supports the clear civilian control of these most  destructive of capabilities that this arrangement affords.

“The  Committee recommendation is strongly supportive of the President’s proposals to  selectively increase investments in the national defense accounts: Weapons  Activities, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. Our nation’s  defense rests on a strong nuclear deterrent, and as our stockpile ages,  investments needed to keep these weapons reliable, safe, and secure will likely  grow. At the same time, the Committee supports the Administration’s efforts to  prohibit the spread of fissile materials overseas.  Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the  United States government has made great strides in limiting the potential  spread of fissile materials, but much more is left to be done. Finally, our  country’s strategic triad depends on our ballistic missile submarines, which are  supported through the Naval Reactors account.

“Each  of these accounts is critical to our nation’s defense. However, taxpayer  funding will continue to be limited, and it is incumbent upon the experts at  the National Nuclear Security Administration to give their best guidance and  feedback to their partners at the Department of Defense, Department of State,  and other countries regarding the most cost-effective opportunities to meet these  defense imperatives.

The committee proposes the following funding levels, with percentage and dollars changes as compared to current year funding.

National  Nuclear Security Administration

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $10,522.5 million     The  FY 2012 Administration request was $11,712.6 million     The  House Appropriations Committee recommends $10,599.0 million, an increase of 0.7  percent or $76.5 million.

The  report language includes recommendations and requirements regarding an early  warhead life extension activities report, financial management, pensions, a  report on the status of the contractor workforce, the reduction of the NNSA  physical plant’s footprint, nuclear weapons transportation, the supply of  Helium-3, and contracting reform.

Within  the NNSA’s budget are the following accounts:

Weapons  Activities

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $6,896.4 million     The  FY 2012 Administration request was $7,589.4 million     The  House Appropriations Committee recommends $7,091.7 million, an increase of 2.8 percent  or $195.3 million.

The  committee report states:

“The  request for Weapons Activities is the second year of large increases requested  in order to pursue the Administration’s strategy set forth in the 2010 Nuclear  Posture Review (NPR) to maintain an aging stockpile through full scope life  extension activities, to modernize the infrastructure and restore capabilities,  and to address the immediate maintenance and production requirements of the  stockpile. Despite the economic crisis, the modernization of the nuclear  security infrastructure remains a major Committee priority and, therefore, the  recommendation provides a three percent increase over the fiscal year 2011  level, and an 11 percent increase over pre-NPR levels.

“While  this level provides the increases necessary to stay on track with the  Administration’s infrastructure modernization and stockpile initiatives  detailed in the NPR, the Committee also has a commitment to ensure that all  taxpayer funds are used responsibly and that only the most cost-effective  opportunities are being pursued to meet defense imperatives. The two major  infrastructure projects planned may now cost as much as $12 billion to  construct. The full costs of refurbishing warheads remain unclear. Even without  modernization, the base costs of operating and maintaining the nuclear security  enterprise continue to escalate, with pension costs alone estimated to rise 90  percent.

“Therefore,  the Committee recommendation also upholds the Committee’s commitment to reduce  waste and make government more efficient by recouping savings in security  activities that are available due to completed projects and efficiency  investments, by eliminating unnecessary activities that only provide marginal  benefit, and by reducing overhead accounts that are driving an escalation in  the base operating costs of the weapons enterprise.”

There  are many programs within Weapons Activities.   Two of them are:

Directed  Stockpile Work

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $1,885.4 million     The  FY 2012 Administration request was $1,963.6 million     The  House Appropriations Committee recommends $1,909.8 million, an increase of 1.3 percent  or $24.4 million.

Campaigns

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $1,690.6 million     The  FY 2012 Administration request was $1,796.7 million     The  House Appropriations Committee recommends $1,605.9 million, a decrease of 5.0 percent  or $84.7 million.

In  the introductory section, the appropriators state:

“The  Committee commends the NNSA for its outstanding Stockpile Stewardship program  and its considerable progress in furthering the science needed to maintain an  aging nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing. Stockpile Stewardship  has produced a more rigorous scientific  understanding of nuclear weapons phenomena than was ever understood when the  stockpile relied primarily on nuclear testing for certification.”

Under  Campaigns is the following language on the Inertial Confinement Fusion and High  Yield Campaign.

“The  Committee recommendation provides $471,174,000 for the Inertial Confinement Fusion  and High Yield Campaign, $6,427,000 below fiscal year 2011 and $5,100,000 below  the budget request. Within these funds, $62,500,000 shall be for the Laboratory  for Laser Energetics as requested. The recommendation includes $4,000,000 for  the Joint Program in High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas, the same as fiscal  year 2011 and $5,100,000 below the budget request.  The Committee continues to support the  National Ignition Facility (NIF) and urges the NNSA to maintain its schedule  towards achieving fusion ignition. The Committee recommendation includes the  full request to pursue ignition at NIF and to perform supporting       weapons-related  experiments on its pulsed power facilities.   The Committee notes that NIF is already contributing to stockpile stewardship  through experiments which ensure the aging nuclear weapons stockpile continues  to be safe, secure and effective without nuclear testing.”

Another  major account within the NNSA is

Defense  Nuclear Nonproliferation

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $2,273.7 million     The  FY 2012 Administration request was $2,519.5 million     The  House Appropriations Committee recommends $2,056.8 million, a decrease of 9.5 percent  or $216.9 million.

The  report explains:

“The  recommendation fully supports the Administration’s four year goal to secure  vulnerable nuclear material worldwide as an urgent national security need and  priority of the Committee. These activities involve working cooperatively with  countries around the world to secure at the source, remove to a more secure  location, or return to the United States or Russia at-risk nuclear materials at  research reactors, nuclear facilities, and other sites. The overall level  recommended for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation includes a reduction from the  requested amount for the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Project, transfers the  costs of legacy contractor employee pensions to Weapons Activities and recoups  savings in lower priority activities that seek to incrementally lower threat  levels over a longer period of time.”

Another  major NNSA account is:

Naval  Reactors

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $959.2 million     The  FY 2012 Administration request was $1,153.7 million     The  House Appropriations Committee recommends $1,030.6 million, an increase of 7.4 percent  or $71.4 million.

Also:

Office  of the Administrator

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $393.3 million     The  FY 2012 Administration request was $450.1 million     The  House Appropriations Committee recommends $420.0 million, an increase of 6.8 percent  or $26.7 million.

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