Morning Briefing - May 16, 2018
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May 16, 2018

DOE Cleanup Would Get $6.9B for Fiscal 2019 in House Bill

By ExchangeMonitor

The House Appropriations Committee is recommending $6.9 billion in fiscal 2019 for the nuclear cleanup program overseen by the Energy Department Office of Environmental Management (EM).

That would be $257 million less than the fiscal 2018 appropriation but $268 million more than the Trump administration’s request for the budget year beginning Oct. 1.

Ahead of its markup session this morning, the committee Tuesday released a 180-page report on its Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.  The DOE EM funding would encompass non-defense environmental cleanup, defense environmental cleanup, and uranium enrichment decontamination and decommissioning.

“While the Department’s budget request for the Office of Environmental Management (EM) included increases at some sites, those increases were at the expense of other important cleanup activities at Hanford, Idaho, and Oak Ridge,” the bill report says. “The Committee’s recommendation continues to fund a balanced approach that sustains the momentum of ongoing cleanup activities more consistently across all DOE cleanup sites.”

The bill report does not provide specific funding proposals across DOE’s 16 active cleanup sites, but some were looking at a steep cut. The Hanford Site in Washington state would receive a $230 million budget reduction under the DOE plan released in February, to about $2.185 billion.

Should the House legislation pass as written, it would prohibit bartering of government surplus uranium to supplement cleanup at the Portsmouth Site in Ohio. The program has been particularly unpopular in uranium-producing states, which worry about the government flooding the market and depressing prices. Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry pledged to end uranium barter while he waited on Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to lift his hold on Anne Marie White’s nomination to lead the Environmental Management office.

The bill calls for hiring an outside party to look at quality assurance at the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) being built at Hanford. It cites a recent Government Accountability Office report on problems with the Hanford Office of River Protection’s capacity to oversee WTP quality assurance.

The House Appropriations Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Eastern time today for its markup. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee has scheduled the markup of its energy and water bill for next week.