Below are excerpts from Congressman Visclosky's press release this evening. The full text of the press release is available here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2008
Statement of Chairman Peter J. Visclosky
Subcommittee Markup: Fiscal Year 2009 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act
Ensuring Effective Project Management
Poor project management negatively affects every facet of the Department of Energy’s endeavors, and it is the Committee’s number one organizational concern at the Department. DOE spends 90 percent of its annual budget on contracts, more than any other government agency, to operate laboratories, production facilities, and environmental restoration sites. Since 1990, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has made an annual assessment of programs that are at high-risk for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, and every year DOE has made the high-risk list. In the fiscal year 2008 bill, the Committee directed DOE to work with GAO to develop a concrete plan to get off the high-risk list and we have seen little if any progress made. This year we renew that directive.
The bill recommends over $4.86 billion for science, $140 million above the President’s request and an increase of $844 million over the fiscal year 2008 enacted level. Science funds cutting-edge energy research which will be critical for addressing our long-term energy needs. This bill substantially funds the increase in the Science account authorized in the America COMPETES Act. It will provide for 2,600 more research personnel, including graduate students, to address major concerns over the availability of highly educated scientists and engineers whose innovations drive economic growth. The Committee also makes major investments in laboratory infrastructure, embraces proposals to build two dozen Energy Frontier Research Centers focused on addressing critical energy research needs, and provides $539 million, $15 million above the President’s request, for climate change research and scientific computing efforts.
Confronting Nuclear Threats
The President’s request is long on weapons and short on nonproliferation. Compared to the previous year, the weapons request is up five percent while the nonproliferation request is down six percent. This request is not well focused on the threats we face in 2009 and beyond.
The Energy and Water Development bill reduces Weapons Activities from the requested $6.6 billion to $6.2 billion. It increases Nuclear Nonproliferation from the requested $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion. I hope that the next Administration will better recognize the national security benefits of nuclear nonproliferation.
Last year, the Administration proposed the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) as the first of a new generation of nuclear warheads. The Administration promotes the advantages of a new design offering better surety, better reliability, and lower yield, but RRW was offered in a vacuum and there was no new strategy behind it. There was no plan for what the weapons were to be used for, how many there were to be, or how they were to be made. So, Congress refused to fund the RRW.
This year, the Committee again reiterates that before considering funding for most new programs, substantial changes to the existing nuclear weapons complex, or funding for RRW, the following sequence must be completed: First, replacement of the Cold War era strategies with a 21st Century nuclear deterrent strategy sharply focused on today’s and tomorrow’s threats that is capable of serving the national security needs of future Administrations and future Congresses without the need for nuclear testing; second, determination of the size and nature of the nuclear stockpile sufficient to serve that strategy; and finally, determination of the size and nature of the nuclear weapons complex needed to support that future stockpile. Of course, we need to be looking at all three at once, but the decisions have to flow in that order. With no such plan delivered, the fiscal year 2009 bill again denies all funding for RRW. There is no sense in expending the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars absent a clear plan for the complex.
Our greatest threat is the use of a nuclear weapon, or nuclear material, in an act of terror. Because of this fact, the Committee recommends adding $283 million to the request for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, of which $237 million is for the critical areas of safeguards, material protection and removal, and de-enrichment. The recommendation also doubles the Administration’s request for nuclear weapon surety, since surety is our last line of defense against an adversary’s attempt to use our own weapons against us.
There is a large and unfortunate legacy of contamination from the past 60 years of nuclear weapons manufacture and various cancelled approaches to handling spent fuel. This bill enables completion of several smaller sites in fiscal year 2009, and sustains cleanup of a number of larger sites. The bill provides an increase of $221.5 million over the request for Defense and Non-Defense Environmental Management programs, and the Uranium Decontamination and Decommissioning account.