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  HR 2311 -- 07/17/2001

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July 17, 2001


(Sens. Byrd (D) West Virginia; Reid (D) Nevada)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2002, as reported by the Senate Committee. The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to fund agencies and programs at the President's request, however, we are concerned that the Senate version of this bill exceeds the President's request by nearly $2.5 billion. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to ensure mutual priorities are addressed in programs throughout the government, and that discretionary funding is within the levels agreed to in the budget resolution. The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share some concerns with the Senate Committee version of this bill, as noted below.

Department of Energy

The Committee action on both the Energy/Water and Interior appropriations bills is consistent with and largely supportive of the President's National Energy Policy. On May 17th, with the release of the President's National Energy Policy, the President directed the Department of Energy (DOE) to undertake a review of existing energy efficiency and alternative and renewable energy research and development (R&D) programs to ensure future program budget allocations are performance-based and modeled as public-private partnerships. Based on the Secretary of Energy's preliminary review, the Senate Committee's action in both bills to include an additional $334 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy R&D may be supportive of the President's objectives.

The Administration looks forward to working with Congress through conference to ensure the allocation of resources to those programs that most effectively meet performance-based criteria. We will also work with Congress to fund the most efficient program alternatives by reducing lower priority program resources. In particular, the Administration believes it is necessary to leverage applied R&D funds to a greater extent by increasing the industry cost share. This would be particularly useful in some DOE programs, especially as R&D projects move closer to commercialization.

The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration and Environmental Management programs, but does not support the Committee's addition of $1.7 billion over the request for these programs. Although these increases are intended to address problems in meeting certain program milestones at the requested funding level, the increases would not encourage a cost-effective use of program funds or address needed program management improvements. This is particularly true of the Committee's addition of $300 million for a new DOE infrastructure program. Before providing such significant sums, it is important that DOE put in place specific management processes to correct the causes of the current DOE infrastructure situation, such as establishing infrastructure priorities, evaluating potential efficiencies, and improving its tracking of current infrastructure spending. The Administration also notes that numerous Defense studies are still ongoing and we should await their outcomes before providing additional resources above the President's request.

The Administration strongly objects to the Committee's reduction of $170 million for the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. The $275 million provided is insufficient to carry out the statutory requirements of the program. It would require an immediate suspension of scientific work and result in a loss of key scientific personnel. The Federal government would lose the ability to sustain forward momentum in this program, and incur increased liability due to further delays in meeting its obligations. Significantly underfunding this program would likely leave no path forward for removing the Department's spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes at Hanford Reservation, Savannah River Site, West Valley, New York, and Idaho National Environment and Engineering Laboratory. This could have serious repercussions for our national defense and could subject the Department to further litigation.

In addition, the Administration objects to the $2 billion increase in borrowing authority for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) because it is not needed at this time to fund BPA's planned expenditures. However, the Administration appreciates the need for additional investment in electricity infrastructure and will work with the Congress to ensure that adequate private and public resources are available to conduct an effective capital investment program. As discussed in the National Energy Policy Report, the Secretary of Energy is analyzing transmission system bottlenecks and ways to remove them. It is in this context that the Administration is reviewing capital and financing requirements. The President's budget fully funds BPA's planned expenditures through at least FY 2003. Moreover, the Senate bill would prohibit BPA from using any of this additional authority in FY 2002, highlighting the view that this increase is not needed at this time, while clouding recognition that it would absorb $2 billion in outyear budget resources and is tantamount to a significant new advance appropriation. We therefore urge the Senate to delete this provision.

Army Corps of Engineers

The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to address Administration funding priorities for the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program. However, the Administration is concerned about the Committee's increase of $405 million over the request for Corps programs. We can have a strong water resources program at the funding level proposed in the budget by establishing priorities among projects. The Administration is particularly concerned that the Committee's bill contains approximately $240 million for 260 specifically identified projects and activities that were not included in the President's budget (over $120 million more than were included for such projects in last year's Senate bill). Given the large amount of funding needed to complete the backlog of construction projects already underway (over $21 billion), the President's budget focused on completing ongoing projects rather than starting construction of new projects that would add to this backlog and increase delays in completing ongoing projects. We urge the Senate to limit the number of earmarked projects and to focus funding on economically justified, environmentally acceptable projects that address the Corps' principal mission areas.

Bureau of Reclamation

The Administration appreciates the Committee's funding that supports the goals of the California Bay-Delta Restoration Program (CALFED) program.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

The Administration objects to language included in the Committee Report that would block the NRC from revising a regulation governing the use of medical isotopes. There are annually more than 11 million medical procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of disease that use radioactive materials. This regulation, adopted by the Commission in October 2000, would reduce the regulatory burden on the public while maintaining radiation safety of workers and the public. The regulation is currently undergoing review by OMB, and we urge the Senate to delete this provision that would leave in place the existing, more burdensome regulation.

Infringement on Executive Authority

The Administration objects to the provision in Section 303 in the Committee bill that would require Committee approval before Executive Branch execution. The Administration will interpret this provision to require only notification of Congress, since any other interpretation would contradict the Supreme Court ruling in INS v. Chadha.

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