Simpson reports substantial increases in nuclear R&D funding and for cleanup
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, (right) a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, on June 25 announced substantial increases in funding for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the Idaho Cleanup Project (ICP) as part of legislation funding the Department of Energy in Fiscal Year 2010. The legislation was approved by the Subcommittee.
“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of those who work at INL, substantial new resources are headed Idaho’s way to improve facilities, expand reactor development, continue fuel cycle research, and push the development of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies,” said Simpson.
“The new funding in this bill can only be seen as a complete endorsement by Congress of the leadership role INL is playing in our nation’s nuclear renaissance.”
- A $54.03 million increase over the current fiscal year for Idaho National Laboratory facilities. Total Idaho Facilities Management funding is targeted at $194.03 million. The additional funding is available for a variety of uses including new buildings, renovation of existing buildings, equipment purchases, and the Advanced Test Reactor’s operation as a National Scientific User Facility.
- A $76 million increase over the current fiscal year for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) bringing total funding to $245 million. The NGNP is designed to produce both electricity and heat for industrial applications. INL is the Department of Energy’s lead laboratory on research and development of the NGNP.
- $10 million for INL’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program. The Program focuses on maintenance and life extension of our nation’s current fleet of nuclear reactors.
- A combined total of $19.34 million is provided for INL’s collaboration with NASA on the supply of energy sources for deep space missions.
- $1 million for equipment purchases at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at INL.
- $475 million for cleanup activities at INL, which is level funding with the current fiscal year but a $69 million increase over President Obama’s requested amount.
The Energy and Water Development bill is expected to be considered in full committee in two weeks and by the full House sometime in July.
In Idaho Falls, Lane Allgood, Director of the Partnership for Science and Technology, a pro-nuclear business group, praised Simpson’s work in an email to members and said that it showed the community was behind his advocacy for nuclear energy and cleanup programs at the INL.
Allgood reminded the group that the committee report still faces a vote in the full House and a conference committee with the Senate. The Obama administration is working to get the major appropriation bills passed in time for the start of the federal fiscal year which starts October 1st.
Risch votes against energy bill, joins western caucus
For a U.S. Senator brand new to the game in Washington, Idaho’s James Risch (right) has surprised some here in Idaho by jumping on the pro-nuclear cause with determined vigor. He signed on with a dozen or so other republican senators urging congress to expand the federal loan guarantee program for new nuclear power plants. He voted against the Energy Bill being reported out of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee because it didn’t support nuclear energy, and he hired a Ph.D. level nuclear engineer to be his legislative director.
That’s not all. He joined with other western senators, including Idaho’s Sen. Mike Crapo, in a caucus to promote energy development including new nuclear power plants and recycling of spent nuclear fuel. He also issued a statement of support for the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility as did all other members of the Idaho delegation.
With all the ferment in Washington over energy policy, it takes more than just a partisan position to vote against the juggernaut of measures that are rolling through Congress. Risch, who is the ranking republican on the Senate Energy Subcommittee, voted against the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's energy bill saying it fails to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil or to further the development of new emission-free nuclear energy. The bill passed by a vote of 15 to 8. Explaining his vote, Risch said . . .
"America's energy demands are growing and will only increase as the economy gets back on its feet. Nuclear and biomass are proven technologies that are ready now to address those needs and I am disappointed that we did so little to encourage the use of those technologies."
The bill now goes to the full Senate. A floor vote is expected later this year.
What’s even more interesting is over on the House side, Idaho’s lone Democrat in Congress, Walt Minnick, (left) voted against the Obama Administration’s energy initiatives saying they were unfair to western states and failed to promote nuclear energy.
Idaho farmers are worried about increased fertilizer and power costs,” said Rep. Walt Minnick.
“Idaho energy companies believe it lacks proper consideration for hydro power and nuclear technology. Idaho businesses are frustrated with giveaways that rig the system in favor of pollution-heavy industry in the Midwest and California.”
Not another sagebrush rebellion but a coalition
Meanwhile, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports that Risch has joined Utah colleague Bob Bennett, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso to promote tax incentives for building energy infrastructure, open federal lands for oil shale development and promote recycling of spent nuclear fuel to encourage new nuclear power plants.
While Hatch referred to the largely symbolic political effects of the sagebrush rebellion of the 1970s, the other Senators emphasized how they planned to work together to promote western energy interests.
Idaho Senator Mike Crapo right) said the group is introducing the Clean, Affordable, Reliable Energy Act, known as the CARE Act, this week.
The CARE Act promotes development of new alternative and renewable energy, while expanding domestic oil and gas operations. It seeks to streamline the leasing and permit process for new energy development across many sources, from oil to nuclear power generation.
Nuclear-related provisions of the CARE Act include:
- Language denying federal agencies the ability to stop nuclear power applications for reasons of waste disposal
- The establishment of a new nuclear work group to coordinate new nuclear power efforts
Risch gets a ‘nuke’ as his legislative director
And if you are wondering where Idaho’s Sen. James Risch is getting his advice these days, look no further than Corey McDaniel who is his new legislative director. McDaniel most recently served as senior energy policy advisor to second-ranking Republican U.S. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.
"It is very beneficial to have someone of Corey's expertise step into the legislative director position. His vast experience with energy issues, along with his knowledge of the Idaho National Laboratory and Capitol Hill will be invaluable," Risch said in a statement on his Senate web site.
McDaniel will support the Senator's legislative priorities, particularly those related to his committee assignments as the Ranking Member of the Energy Subcommittee on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Before coming to the Senate in 2005, McDaniel managed a renewable energy development firm. He also served as a nuclear safety analyst at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in his home state of New Mexico.
McDaniel earned his doctorate in environmental science and public policy at George Mason University. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in nuclear engineering at Purdue University and the University of New Mexico, respectively.
At the American Nuclear Society annual meeting held Atlanta, GA, June 14-18, McDaniel was already hard at work talking with industry leaders and even nuclear bloggers about critical issues.
In fact McDaniel was moving so fast he hadn’t even had time to print new business cards. He gave out hand-marked up cards from his previous Senate staff post. If you have ideas or questions about energy legislation, he wants to hear from you. Contact Corey at Sen. Risch’s office in Washington, DC.
# # #