Energy Communities Alliance Comments On House And Senate Energy And Water Appropriations


The House Appropriations Committee (HR 4394) in June and Senate Appropriations Committee (S 2443) in July, completed their work on the Energy and Water Appropriation bills and the full Senate and House would need to take up the bills in September to pass them prior to the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2023, or pass a continuing resolution (CR). As we have noted in the past, the expectation is for the federal government to operate through a CR until the House and Senate can agree on spending levels. Congress has enacted one or more CRs in all but three of the 47 fiscal years since the start of the fiscal year since FY 1977. Also, for the past several years prior to a Presidential election, the CRs typically last into the following calendar year. 

Courtesy ECA

The House Appropriations Committee (HR 4394) in June and Senate Appropriations Committee (S 2443) in July, completed their work on the Energy and Water Appropriation bills and the full Senate and House would need to take up the bills in September to pass them prior to the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2023, or pass a continuing resolution (CR). As we have noted in the past, the expectation is for the federal government to operate through a CR until the House and Senate can agree on spending levels. Congress has enacted one or more CRs in all but three of the 47 fiscal years since the start of the fiscal year since FY 1977. Also, for the past several years prior to a Presidential election, the CRs typically last into the following calendar year.

Generally, the Energy and Water Appropriation bills are consistent with last year’s appropriations across NNSA, EM, Office of Science, NE, LM and other projects that our communities follow. The links to the Appropriation Committee Reports are listed below: 

Energy-Water Bills: H.R. 4394S. 2443
HOUSE: 34-24 06/22/2023 H. Rept. 118- 126 
SENATE: 29-0 07/20/2023 S. Rept. 118-72  

How the Bills Compare to FY 2023 Enacted E&W 

Office of Environmental Management (Enacted in FY 23 $8.2 billion) 
House – $42.8 million increase ($8.28 billion)
Senate – $275 million increase ($8.5 billion)  

National Nuclear Security Administration (Enacted in FY 23 $22.1 billion) 
House – $1.79 billion increase ($23.9 billion) 
Senate – $1.71 billion increase ($23.8 billion)  

Office of Nuclear Energy (Enacted in FY 23 $1.47 billion) 
House – $310 million increase ($1.78 billion) 
Senate – $77.8 million increase ($1.55 billion)  

Office of Science (Enacted in FY 23 $8.1 billion) 
House – $0 increase ($8.1 billion) 
Senate – $5.39 million increase ($8.43 billion)  

Office of Legacy Management (Enacted in FY 23 $190 million) 
House and Senate- $5.39 million increase ($196 million)  

Office of Nuclear Waste Disposal (Enacted in FY 23 $10.2 million) 
House and Senate – $1.83 million increase ($12 million)  

Department of Energy (Enacted in FY 23 $46.2 billion) 
House – $2.94 billion decrease ($43.3 billion) 
Senate – $4 billion increase ($50.2 billion)  

The following is a summary of key provisions of the House and Senate Committee Reports of the Energy and Water Appropriations. These summaries highlight key policy and spending issues that Congress is focused on as it relates to the programs. The full summaries are linked above.  

Environmental Cleanup and Waste Issues – Support for Cleanup Budget 
The House Appropriations Committee recognizes that for certain sites to see an increase in their budget, it is at an expense of other sites. The Committee recommends a significantly higher budget request for Hanford site to support stable cleanup activities, however, Oak Ridge, Idaho, and Savannah River saw a decrease. The Committee advocates for “a balanced approach that sustains the momentum of ongoing cleanup activities more consistently across all Department cleanup sites”.  

The Senate Appropriations Committee recognizes the importance of continuous funding for defense environmental cleanup “the Department is required to meet specific compliance milestones toward the cleanup of the Hanford site. Among other things, the Department committed to provide the funding necessary to enable full compliance with its cleanup milestones. The Committee recognizes that significant progress has been made at the Hanford site, but greater funding will be necessary to meet compliance milestones.” Hanford site saw the largest increase of all Defense sites with a $120.8 million increase (total $1 billion).  Except for Washington, Nevada, and South Carolina, the bill would provide flat or even decreased funding for cleanup sites.  The bill also includes future budget requests, where “The Committee continues to direct the Department to include out-year funding projections in the annual budget request by control point for Environmental Management, and an estimate of the total cost and time to complete each site”. This includes acknowledgement of the Committees obligations to Richland for future cleanup. As well as continuous funding for Office of River Protection, Containment Ventilation Systems, Program Direction, and Technology Development. The Committee states that within their available funds $5 billion for “continued independent review, analysis, and applied research to support cost-effective, risk informed cleanup decision making”. 

Non-Defense Environmental Cleanup 
Both committees provide funding for non-defense environmental cleanup that includes funds to manage and remediate sites that were used for civilian, energy research, and non-defense related activities. These activities from the past resulted in radioactive and mixed waste contamination that requires cleanup actions.  The House committee provides funding for gaseous diffusion plants ($132 million) and” notes with approval the Department’s initial steps to implement a multi-year campaign to transport and dispose of surplus depleted uranium oxide cylinders from the Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio, facilities”. The Committee also provides $115 million for small sites, which includes the Energy Technology Engineering Center ($115 million), Idaho National Laboratory ($4.5 million), and Moab ($67 million).  The Senate committee recommends $354 million for Non-Defense Environmental, which includes funding for Gaseous Diffusion Plants ($140 million). The Committee recognizes that there is a need for a new program to support the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plans “…as the Department of Energy continues cleanup operations over the coming decades since sustainment of the C-100 program support facility is no longer cost effective”. Under Non-Defense the Committee recommends $120 million for small sites, which includes the Energy Technology Engineering Center ($26.5 million), Idaho National Laboratory ($4 million), Moab ($67 million), Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory ($12 million), and funding for excess Office of Science facilities ($10.9 million).  

NNSA – Plutonium Pit Production – Concerns Identified – Support for the Mission 
The House bill includes $24 billion for NNSA to fully fund all major weapons and infrastructure modernization activities. It provides funding for weapons activities ($19 billion), naval reactors ($1.9 billion), defense nuclear nonproliferation ($2.3 billion), as well as providing additional funding for Plutonium Pit Production, the Uranium Processing Facility, and the nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N) program. The Senate bill provides an increase in funding for Weapons Activity. Including $142 million above the request for Savannah River plutonium pit production. As well as a $400 million increase from fiscal year 2023 for the Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  The Senate Committee believes that NNSA is not fully accounting for risk to schedule and cost for its two-site pit production strategy. The Committee previously directed, in the fiscal year 2023 Act, NNSA to provide a plan to establish a two site Integrated Master Schedule covering the entirety of the work required to produce 80 pits per year and a timeline that NNSA has high confidence will achieve this critical requirement. NNSA is directed to provide this plan immediately after enactment of this act. The Senate Committee supports investment in pit production in recognition of new threats and challenges maintaining readiness on aging.  

The Committee recommendation for the NNSA continues funding for recapitalization of our nuclear weapons infrastructure, while modernizing and maintaining a safe, secure, and credible nuclear deterrent without the need for underground testing. The Committee supports continuing important efforts to secure and permanently eliminate remaining stockpiles of nuclear and radiological materials both here and abroad to reduce the global danger from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The Committee also supports Naval Reactors and the important role they play in enabling the Navy’s nuclear fleet. A highly skilled and diverse workforce is required to maintain and modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile and execute the global nonproliferation initiatives of the NNSA. The Committee commends the NNSA for considerable progress made to recruit and retain this unique workforce. 

 “Although NNSA today views its mission as driven by military requirements and near-term schedules, it is equally important that the agency be a trusted and good steward of taxpayer dollars. Too often, NNSA has over-promised, over-spent, and under-delivered on its important commitments, such as pit production. It is therefore imperative that NNSA maintain its focus on improving its management of projects and programs. The Government Accountability Office [GAO] has made numerous recommendations to NNSA to improve management of its projects and programs. As of May 2023, GAO considers 60 recommendations it has made to NNSA as open.”  

Workforce Development 
Both Senate and House Committees support funding for training and workforce development programs that will assist and support workers in trades and activities that are essential for growth in the U.S. energy area. Both Committees acknowledge that the Department of Energy is encouraged ”…to continue to work with two year, community and technical colleges; labor; and nongovernmental and industry consortia to pursue job training programs, including programs focused on displaced fossil fuel workers, that lead to an industry-recognized credential in the energy workforce”.  The Senate Committee also identifies the importance of students in building a strong STEM workforce pipeline that will spread across DOE disciples. DOE will be providing the Committee a report that will include “…the resources required and opportunities to triple the number of student research participant placements within its current participant programs to support the cross-cutting, Department-wide initiatives, such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and quantum information science, and basic and applied research programs. The report shall include information on how the Department’s current programs and research investments can be further leveraged to support expanding undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and post-doc research participant placements to build a strong STEM workforce pipeline”.  

Nuclear Energy And Fuel Security
The House Appropriations committee recognizes the importance of continuous funding for nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration activities. The committee acknowledges that the Administration does not consider nuclear power as a high priority, however, the committee “…strongly supports key activities furthering the development of advanced reactors and fuel supply technologies, including small modular reactors and domestic uranium enrichment capabilities”. 

The Committee understands that to ensure that our energy system does not become reliant on China, due to the lack of domestic sources of critical minerals. It is necessary for the committee to fund “…the full spectrum of production technologies of critical minerals, including extraction, separation, processing, manufacturing, and recycling. This approach makes full use of the nation’s vast domestic resources and enhances our technological capabilities while securing the full supply chain of critical minerals”.  

The Senate bill provides $1.55 billion for Nuclear Energy research and development, including funding for microreactor development and accident-tolerant fuel important for nuclear reactor safety. Furthermore, there is repurposed supplemental emergency funding that provides funds for small modular reactors.  

The Committee encourages the Department to support the commercialization activities associated with laser enrichment technology in furtherance of expanding U.S. supply of the high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). This bill provides repurposed supplemental emergency funding that provides funds for small modular reactors and the HALEU program for advanced reactor fuel development, important for domestic fuel security with Russia and China. The bill also includes a provision that would establish a domestic content requirement for the enrichment and conversion of our nuclear fuel. The House Committee recommends $1.297 billion for ongoing activities for Advanced Small Modular Reactor RD&D. This includes $399 million in each of the fiscal years 2024, 2025, and 2026. While the Senate Committee only provides $20 billion for Advanced Small Modular Reactor RD&D, while providing $203 million for Advanced Reactors Demonstration Program (ARDP) program. 

The House Committee recognizes that the deployment of advanced reactors is essential to the U.S.’s ability to recover its leadership in nuclear energy and meeting climate goals. The Committee encourages DOE’s establishment of the ARDP. The Committee provides funding for two purposes under the ARDP program. Design and construction activities for the National Reactor Innovation Center at Idaho National Laboratory, and the Risk Reduction for Future Demonstrations program.  

The Senate Committee supports the ARDP as well, focusing on the programs primary goal of focusing “…government and industry resources on actual construction of real demonstration reactors that are safe and affordable (to build and operate) in the near and mid-term”.

The Committee makes it clear that the initial goal of the program to deliver advanced reactor demos in five to seven years is no longer attainable. The Committee is directing DOE to provide a report that includes assessments of resources and time for ARDP projects. As well as covering the causes for delays and cost overruns.  

The Senate Committee also recommends $10 million for the Advanced Nuclear Licensing Energy Cost-Share Grant Program under the Regulatory Development. DOE will coordinate this work with the “financial and technical assistance for reactor siting feasibility studies activities”.  

The House bill includes funding for spent nuclear fuel reprocessing under Advanced Nuclear Licensing which is recommended for $5 million. The Committee is aware that currently 86,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors exists and is stored at 75 U.S. sites. The Committee supports DOE’s reprocessing efforts and believes that it can grow. The Committee recommends $10 million to “implement a new competitive, cost-shared program for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel”.  

The Senate bill states that in regard to Integrated Waste Management, DOE “is directed to move forward under existing authority to identify a site for a Federal interim storage facility. The Department is further directed to use a consent based approach when undertaking these activities. The Department is reminded that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act provides for a wide variety of activities that may take place prior to the limitation in that act”. 

Office Of Science – Scientific leadership 
Both Committees in House and Senate recognize the growing need for improving the Nation’s renewable energy storage and encourage the Office of Basic Science to continue to fund research to further develop advanced electronic structure and machine learning tools to enable theory-guided design of new energy transformation materials, including electro-catalysts and battery interfaces.  The House and Senate understand that high priority must be given to these activities as the work is vital to sustaining the scientific leadership of the United States.

The Senate bill will deliver $330 million more in funding for the Office of Science to support cutting-edge scientific research and investment in clean energy technology. Both bills continue strong funding to enhance America’s role as the global leader of scientific discovery. Under the Office of Science both House and Senate support the research program in quantum information science and technology. The House Committee recommends $245 million for quantum information science, including $120 million for research and $125 million for five National Quantum Information Science Research Centers. The Senate Committee recommends the same amount for research and the research centers but increases the total amount by $10 million ($255 million).  

The Office of Science provides funding for Fusion Energy Science programs, which supports research and experimentation with the goal of using nuclear fusion for energy production. The House Committee recommends $778 million for Fusion Energy Science, almost a $15 million increase from FY 23. The Senate Committee recommends $792 million, almost a $29 million increase from FY 23. The programs funded under Fusion Energy Science include Inertial Fusion Energy which will encourage research that will realize commercial fusion energy as quickly as possible. This money will also continue to support the Innovative Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) program, as well as supporting the need for upgrades in fusion facilities and initiatives.  

Legacy Management 

The House Committee recommendation for the Office of Legacy Management can be found in Other Defense Activities, which provides funding for Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security; the Office of Independent Enterprise Assessments; the Office of Legacy Management; Specialized Security Activities; Defense Related Administrative Support; and the Office of Hearings and Appeals. The Committee recommends $196 million for the Office of Legacy Management, a $5 million increase from FY 23.  The Senate bill also provides a $5 million increase for the Office of Legacy Management from the fiscal year 2023 appropriation bill. This is split between a $4.7 million increase for Defense Legacy Management Activities and $639,000 increase for Legacy Management Program Direction.  

Other Funding Highlights
The House bill makes no mention of funding for a new national laboratory, yet the Senate Committee explicitly recommends no funds for the planning and construction of a new national laboratory.  In the Senate bill there is also a section that includes the Committees concerns about DOE’s Insider Threat Program. The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report identifies several significant issues with the program. Due to the growing concern DOE is instructed to provide the Committee with “…the Department’s annual reports to the Secretary of Energy on the agency’s Insider Threat Program-including any information on the resources needed to maintain and support the program…”. The Committee wants to ensure that DOE and NNSA are both guarding against insider threats.  

Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
Both bills also provide recommendations for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). `The House recommends $960 million which will fund the NRC’s responsibilities of overseeing nuclear materials, radioactive waste activities, security of commercial nuclear reactors, and their responsibility of holding those in the nuclear industry to the highest legal and regulation standards.  

The Senate Committee provided a recommendation lower than the House, of $941 million. Which will include funding for Integrated University Programs, Reactor Oversight and Safety, Budget Execution Plan, Telework Plan, Fusion Regulatory Infrastructure, and finally Advanced Nuclear Reactor Regulatory Infrastructure.  

The Committee’s recommendation includes $34.2 million “for the development of regulatory infrastructure for advanced nuclear technologies, which is not subject to the Commission’s general fee recovery collection requirements. The Committee encourages the Commission to incorporate nuclear safeguards and security requirements into its development of the advanced reactor regulatory infrastructure and to work with the Department of Energy, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other groups in the formulation of its licensing requirements. Further, to facilitate the licensing of new reactors, not later than 90 days after enactment of this act, the Commission is directed to submit to Congress a report providing options on how to improve organizational management to review and advanced reactor license applications for first-of-a-kind nuclear reactors. The report shall review and assess the NRC’s existing organizational structure and identify potential gaps in the current organizational licensing approach. The report shall also make recommendations to improve organizational management, such as establishing a dedicated review team with the leadership, expertise, capacity, and orientation to enable the issuance of a license in a timely, efficient, and safe manner”.  

DOE Funding Overall The House Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies bill provides $57.958 billion in discretionary spending, which is below the FY24 President’s Budget Request by $1.963. This bill provides an increase of the FY23 enacted level in both defense and non-defense spending. This bill supports a strong national security by the providing billions for Naval Reactors and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. As well as prioritizing energy security by supporting domestic uranium enrichment capabilities, including HALEU availability.  

The Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act provides $58.095 billion in total funding for Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and independent agencies. This bill supports scientific research to keep America on the cutting edge of new resources that will support our nuclear nonproliferation, environmental clean-up efforts and safe maintenance of our nuclear weapons stockpile.  

MORE INFORMATION The House’s bill text is available here, and the bill report is available here. Senate’s bill text is available here, and the bill report is available here.  To see how the House and Senate bills compare, visit ECA’s federal budget tracker here.

Courtesy ECA