House Appropriators Draft FY 2011 DOE Funding Bill

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Publication date: 
20 July 2010

The House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee has drafted a $34.7 billion FY 2011 funding bill that allocates $1.5 billion or 5.6 percent less than the Administration requested for the Department of Energy.  The subcommittee’s bill would essentially freeze the budget for the Office of Science in FY 2011.  Spending on nuclear weapons activities would increase 8.2 percent.

The subcommittee approved its bill last Thursday by voice vote.  The bill’s accompanying report with specific program recommendations will be released after the full House Appropriations Committee meets and passes the legislation.  It is not known when or whether the full committee will meet to consider the legislation.

The subcommittee released a one page table with proposed funding levels, along with a statement by Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ), acting chairman at the markup.  Excerpts from each follow:

Department of Energy:

FY 2010 appropriation: $27,111 million  
FY 2011 Administration request: $29,613 million  
Subcommittee recommendation: $28,109 million, an increase of $998 million or 3.7 percent above this year.

Office of Science:

FY 2010 appropriation: $4,904 million  
FY 2011 Administration request: $5,121 million  
Subcommittee recommendation: $4,900 million, a decline of $4 million or 0.1 percent below this year.

Pastor stated:

“The bill provides $4.9 billion for the Office of Science, approximately the same as 2010, to ensure the United States’ continued global leadership of basic science research and to develop the fundamental knowledge necessary for the next generation of energy innovations. Through investments in areas like high energy physics, we push the edges of scientific knowledge and foster our nation’s world-leading scientists. Through programs that research basic energy sciences, fusion energy, advanced scientific computing, nuclear physics, and biological and environmental research, we build the foundation of knowledge that will enable us to transform our energy sector to be more secure and sustainable.”

Energy Innovation Hubs:

The subcommittee’s table does not contain a line item for the Hubs.  A FY 2011 Department of Energy budget document issued last February explained: “The Department will continue funding the three Energy Innovation Hubs introduced in FY 2010 to focus on developing fuels that can be produced directly from sunlight, improving energy efficient building systems design, and using modeling and simulation tools to create a virtual model of an operating advanced nuclear reactor. In addition, DOE is proposing a new Hub to focus on batteries and energy storage.”

Pastor stated:

“In the fiscal year 2011 bill, the Committee builds on the Recovery Act’s energy initiatives with investments to reduce our dependence on petroleum and create a more diverse, secure, clean and affordable American energy sector. To this end, the bill continues three energy innovation hubs started in fiscal year 2010, recognizing that this model for energy research and development promises to bring innovative technologies from basic research to market commercialization faster than other research models.”

Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy:

FY 2010 appropriation: none  
Economic stimulus act funding: $400 million  
FY 2011 Administration request: $300 million  
Subcommittee recommendation: $220 million

Pastor stated:

“Our nation’s economic, environmental, and security challenges require new approaches to creating innovative technologies that can transform our energy sector. The bill provides $220 million to the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, which funds projects that are too risky to rely solely upon private-sector investment but may revolutionize the way we produce and use energy. By investing in pioneering universities, companies, and laboratories that are developing technologies, ranging from carbon capture techniques to processes that make transportation fuels from electricity, we will help America compete in the global race for energy innovation while addressing our pressing energy challenges.”

Weapons Activities:

FY 2010 appropriation: $6,384 million  
FY 2011 Administration request: $7,009 million  
Subcommittee recommendation: $6,910 million, an increase of $526 million or 8.2 percent above this year.

Pastor’s statement on national security provides insight on the approach taken in the subcommittee’s bill:

“While the impacts of past energy policies are clear to every American - high gas prices, pollution and a dependence on foreign oil that puts our national security at risk - the impacts of national defense requirements are less tangible, but of critical importance. This year we face significant needs at the Department of Energy that affect our national security.

“This Committee has, since 2007, pushed for an enduring 21st century strategy for nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapons complex that supports the national deterrence strategy. The Administration has made great strides in meeting the requirement for a comprehensive policy for nuclear weapons, grounded in contemporary realities, with the Nuclear Posture Review and other supporting documents. As a direct result of the Administration’s efforts to address these concerns, the Committee recommends significant increases to ensure our national deterrent is safe, secure, and effective. The bill also provides significant increases in support of the President’s goal of securing vulnerable nuclear material worldwide. In a difficult budget environment, the bill also makes investments in critical infrastructure and continues support for important energy programs that are also critical to our long-term national security.”

He later commented:

“The bill provides $7.0 billion for new activities, approximately the same as the request and $606 million above 2010, in support of our nation’s nuclear weapons complex and related activities. This funding will help to ensure the nation’s nuclear deterrent is safe, secure and effective, contributing to the nation’s and our allies’ security. The bill recommends substantial increases to life extension programs and infrastructure investments and directs the use of $80 million in previously appropriated funds no longer required for their intended purpose.”

Nuclear Energy:

FY 2010 appropriation: $787 million  
FY 2011 Administration request: $824 million  
Subcommittee recommendation: $824 million, an increase of $37 million or 4.7 percent above this year.

Pastor stated:

“For Nuclear Energy, the bill provides $824 million as requested, and $37 million above 2010. The increase is a result of the transfer of responsibilities to Nuclear Energy in the aftermath of the Administration’s decision to terminate the Yucca Mountain project, including carrying forward the research agenda in nuclear waste repositories and the Department’s responsibilities under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. A Center of Excellence for Nuclear Waste Management is created to retain and advance the scientific expertise in repository systems to serve nuclear waste disposal efforts in the future. Other research initiatives relating to nuclear reactor designs, such as Small Modular Reactors, and nuclear energy enabling technologies are also supported.”

The Obama Administration requested no FY 2011 funding for nuclear waste disposal.  The FY 2010 appropriation is $98 million.  The subcommittee’s bill provided no funding for this line item.

During the subcommittee markup, which all members attended, Republicans offered eight amendments.  Several sought to reduce funding levels in the bill, and were rejected on a strictly party-line vote.  Republicans brought several amendments before the subcommittee related to nuclear waste disposal and Yucca Mountain which were also defeated on a party-line vote.

Senate Appropriators meet this afternoon to consider their version of the FY 2011 Energy and Water Development bill.

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