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David Sparks Ph.d Simpson Sustains INL
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: July 21, 2017

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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced that the Fiscal Year 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill protects funding for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which passed the bill through the full House Appropriations Committee today, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.


The FY 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $969 million.  Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $969 billion allocation include:

 ·         The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $238 million – a $6.3 million increase over last year.

• INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $133 million – an increase of $3.7 million over fiscal year 2017.

·         The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $126.7 million – an increase of $11.6 million above fiscal year 2017. 

·         The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which is managed by INL and promotes the continued safe operation of America’s existing nuclear reactors, is funded at $40 million, the same as last year.

·         The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $219.3 million – an increase of $87.3 million above last year. Within the overall $219 million level for this account, $30 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, and $60 million is for a solicitation to support technical, first-of-its-kind engineering and design and regulatory development of next generation light water and non-light water reactor technologies, including small modular reactors. 

·         Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $71 million; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $45 million.

·         Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $82.5 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor. 

·         Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $9 million for the development of an Electric Grid Test Bed program to enhance existing full-scale electric grid testing capabilities like those at Idaho National Laboratory.


The bill also provides $382 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with INL.  The funding level will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $4 million for the National Spent Fuel Program, putting the unique expertise of INL to work in order to provide solutions for managing the Department of Energy’s inventories of spent nuclear fuel. 


Despite the Obama Administration’s unilateral decision to disregard the federal government’s legal requirement to take responsibility for civilian spent nuclear fuel, the bill contains funding to support the continued adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application, ensuring the federal government will meet its commitments to Idaho and other states and dispose of used nuclear fuel.


Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $37.6 billion for the functions of the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and a number of independent agencies, including direction for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration.


“From water projects across the nation to critical energy research and national security, the Energy and Water bill has a wide reach,” Chairman Simpson said.  “This bill prioritizes fulfilling our national security needs and maintaining critical investments to advance our economy within tight budget caps,” said Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson. “It strikes a responsible balance between the modernization and safety of our nuclear weapons, advancing our national infrastructure, and strategic investments in basic science and energy R&D.”


The House Appropriations Committee also passed the fiscal year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The legislation includes important priorities to Idaho such as vital research and support for farmers and ranchers. Similar to previous years, Congressman Simpson authored language in the Agriculture Appropriations bill that blocks the President’s proposed closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho.


“I am pleased that the House Appropriations Committee is sending a clear message that recognizes the station’s valuable work,” said Congressman Simpson. “While I was disappointed that USDA proposed to close the facility, this creates an important opportunity towards ensuring that stakeholders and ARS come together to work on a viable, long-term future for the sheep station.”


Also included in the Agriculture Appropriations bill are other important Idaho priorities such as potato and wheat research funding, support for pest eradication programs, and language directing the FDA to develop a standard identity for dairy based on existing standards which is similar to Congressman Simpson’s bipartisan DAIRY Pride Act.


The two bills are expected to be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.


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