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June 18, 1998
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 1999, as
reported by the House 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 $723 million increase provided by the Committee for Army Corps of Engineers projects has come at the expense of other priority programs.
Army Corps of Engineers
We urge the House to redirect some of the unrequested funding added by the Committee for Army Corps of Engineers construction activities to fully fund priority Corps activities at their requested levels, such as the Columbia and Snake River salmon recovery efforts and Everglades restoration, and to ameliorate harsh cuts in other priority programs funded by the bill.
The Committee mark eliminates the Administration's requested increase for the solar and renewable energy program, effectively freezing it at its current level and eliminating funding for many valuable cost-shared projects with industry. The Committee has also cut requested new funding for fundamental research into carbon sequestration and climate-change dynamics in half, a reduction of $13.5 million from the President's request. These funding levels result in a reduction of about one-third -- over $100 million -- in the President's total requested increase for development of clean, non-greenhouse gas power sources. These changes would seriously undercut the Department of Energy's (DOE's) ability to move into the next phases of 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 s trongly opposes these reductions. These programs provide numerous benefits including greenhouse gas reduction, increased industrial competitiveness, increased job opportunities, reduced energy costs for consumers, increased energy independence, and improved air quality. We will work with the Congress to restore funding in this critical area.
Department of Energy Defense Activities
The Administration strongly objects to the Committee's $358 million reduction to the request for nuclear weapons activities. The Committee states that $305 million of that reduction is to come from the use of prior-year balances. Such large balances are not available. This cut would force real reductions in critical programs needed to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of America's nuclear deterrent.
The Committee has cut $15 million from the request for the Worker and Community Transition Program and has added $16 million for the unrequested acceleration of decommissioning activities at old facilities used for Naval Reactors Development. The Naval facilities are in safe shutdown conditions and are not a threat to the environment. The Administration objects to the shifting of funds needed to assist displaced workers to accelerate low-priority activities.
Science and Fusion
The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to fund fully the majority of the Science accounts.
However, the Committee proposes to eliminate all funds for the Next Generation Internet (NGI) program at the Department of Energy. The NGI initiative, announced by the President last fall, provides the R&D necessary to revolutionize high-speed networking capabilities in the United States. Some DOE laboratories will be among the facilities to benefit from the 1,000-times faster network to be established by the NGI. Further, the multi-agency NGI effort will suffer without the participation of the Department's expert network and user communities.
The Administration strongly objects to the $57 million reduction in the request (down to a level of $100 million) for construction of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) in FY 1999. The Administration is committed to providing the resources required to complete the SNS at cost and on schedule.
Finally, the Administration objects to the elimination of funding to participate in the extension of the international planning process that led to the international design effort for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). This action would have a serious negative impact on U.S. participation in future international fusion efforts. Moreover, since the United States hosts the international design center in San Diego, California, the Administration is concerned that a U.S. withdrawal from the ITER-planning process would undermine the credibility of the United States in future negotiations on international science projects.
The Administration objects to the $230 million reduction in the Defense Environmental Management Privatization account. These funds are needed to meet required milestones and complete nuclear waste cleanup of DOE facilities. The Administration also opposes the $47 million reduction in the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund. This reduction would significantly delay environmental restoration efforts at the plants covered by the fund, thereby increasing the cost for these activities.
Nuclear Waste Disposal
The Committee's reduction of $30 million to the request for the civilian radioactive waste program, and its directive to reduce support services by ten percent, would significantly reduce the quality of data and analysis for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) at Yucca Mountain. A quality DEIS, which is an FY 1999 milestone, is a necessary prerequisite to an FY 2001 Site Recommendation.
Bureau of Reclamation
We urge the Committee 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 also urge the Committee to restore the reductions totaling over $60 million in other Bureau of Reclamation programs, in particular $16 million for the environmentally important, user-financed Central Valley Project Restoration Fund and $11 million for vital dam safety work.