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June 18, 1998


(Sponsors: Stevens (R), Alaska; Domenici (R), New Mexico)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 2138, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 1999, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.

The Administration appreciates the challenges faced by the Committee in funding a wide array of needs within tight budgetary constraints. However, we are concerned that the $566 million increase provided by the Committee for Army Corps of Engineers projects has come at the expense of other priority programs.

The bill eliminates all of the Administration's requested increase for the solar and renewable energy program, including eliminating funding for valuable cost-shared projects with industry, and the Committee Report expresses misguided concerns about projects related to commercialization of new technologies. The Committee's funding level represents a reduction of about one-third -- over $100 million -- in the President's requested increase for development of clean, non-greenhouse gas power sources. These changes would seriously undercut the Department of Energy's ability to continue some of the most promising research now underway, eliminate accelerated introduction of clean power sources, and restrict our ability to lower greenhouse gas emissions levels. The Administration strongly opposes these reductions and will work with the Congress to restore funding to this critical area.

We urge the Congress to fund fully the request for the California Bay-Delta program. Less than full funding could delay Federal and State efforts to restore this important ecosystem.

We commend the Committee for fully funding the construction costs of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) in FY 1999. The SNS will provide path-breaking research opportunities in the physical, biological, and medical sciences and will ensure continued U.S. pre-eminence in neutron sciences and their industrial and medical applications. Likewise, the Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program and for funding TVA's non-power programs.

The bill would prevent obligation of funds for design of a facility to dispose of plutonium contained in excess weapons until agreement is reached with Russia on a bilateral schedule for plutonium disposition. The Administration shares the Committee's view that the United States should dispose of excess plutonium only in parallel with Russia. However, we do not agree with the Committee's approach. The Administration will work with the Congress to find an alternative way of addressing our mutual concerns.

Finally, the proposed language in section 306 of the bill would generally impair the Department of Energy's ability to ship transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). In particular, this language would prevent closure of the Rocky Flats site by 2006, eliminate potential savings of up to $1 billion, and potentially add costs of as much as $60 million. In addition, transuranic waste at the Savannah River, Hanford, Mound, and Los Alamos sites could not be removed for disposal at WIPP.