House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill Draws Veto Threat

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Publication date: 
9 July 2014

The White House has threatened to veto the FY 2015 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill that the full House of Representatives is now considering.  A Statement of Administration Policy issued today by the Office of Management and Budget on H.R. 4923 declares:

“The bill significantly underfunds critical investments that develop American energy sources to build a clean and secure energy future, support the emerging clean energy technologies that create high-quality jobs, and enhance the Nation's economic competiveness. The legislation also excessively restricts nonproliferation contracts with Russia and prevents the development of lower cost technologies for disposal of excess plutonium.” 

The Statement continues:

“If the President were presented with H.R. 4923, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

The House is likely to conclude its deliberations and pass the bill this week.  The counterpart bill approved by the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee was pulled from consideration by the full Senate Appropriations Committee because of disputes regarding the EPA’s regulation of power plant emissions. 

Several issues of FYI review the House bill’s provisions regarding the Office of Science, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and Yucca Mountain.

Selections from the five-page Statement of Administration Policy follow:

Office of Science:

“The Administration urges the Congress to fully fund the FY 2015 Budget request for the Office of Science. The $40 million reduction from the FY 2015 Budget request would reduce the number of grants to academic investigators and funding for staff at DOE laboratories working on fundamental discovery science and research that underpins advances in clean energy. This reduction would also affect access to world class facilities used by researchers from all sectors to conduct R&D. The bill funds the international fusion project ITER, at a level $75 million above the FY 2015 Budget request. In light of schedule delays and management reforms underway, the Administration is concerned that the U.S. contributions would outpace the readiness of the project."

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA):

“The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the requested funding level for NNSA's Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation and Weapons Activities programs."

Nuclear Nonproliferation Cooperation with Russia:

“The Administration strongly objects to the language in the bill that would prevent the use of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation appropriations for contracts with, or Federal assistance to, the Russian Federation. Nonproliferation cooperation with the Russian Federation is in the U.S. national interest and remains an essential element of the global effort to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism. Critical bilateral nuclear nonproliferation activities are continuing in a number of key areas, such as improving physical protection and reducing insider threats at vulnerable Russian facilities"

Disposition of Weapons-Usable Plutonium:

“The Administration strongly objects to language that would require the Secretary of Energy to continue construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility. The Administration plans to move the facility into cold stand-by in FY 2015 as it continues to explore the potential for more cost effective alternatives while maintaining the U.S. Government's commitment to disposing of unneeded plutonium."

Yucca Mountain:

“The Administration objects to the DOE funding provided in the bill for Yucca Mountain and is disappointed with the Committee's rejection of the practical solutions proposed in the Administration's nuclear waste strategy. As reflected in the FY 2015 Budget request, this strategy incorporates important and workable elements for a successful waste program, such as consent-based siting, interim storage of waste, and program funding reforms that are essential to the success of a Nuclear Waste Program. Similarly, the Administration objects to funding provided in the bill for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application."