FY2016 Energy & Water Development Appropriations Bill Approved by Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the FY2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, a $35.4 billion measure to support U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) programs, including national nuclear security and energy research and development, as well as critical infrastructure projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.
Overall, the Senate bill represents a $1.2 billion increase over the FY2015 enacted level and $668 million below the President’s budget request.  The Senate measure, approved on a 26-4 vote, provides added resources to strengthen the U.S. nuclear deterrence posture, ensure nuclear stockpile readiness and safety, and prepare for existing and future nuclear threats. 
Important to the American commerce and public safety, the committee rejects the President’s budget recommendation to cut Army Corps of Engineer funding by 17 percent and instead approves a responsible level of funding to improve and maintain flood control projects and ensure the viability of national and regional ports and waterways.
The bill also promotes programs aimed at improving American energy security and economic competitiveness.  For example, it contains the highest level of funding ever for the DOE Office of Science to spur greater innovation in energy research, high-performance computing and next-generation technologies.
“This appropriations bill is forward-looking in its approach to responsibly providing for our national nuclear security, waterways management, flood control, and energy security despite limited resources. All these areas are important to the day-to-day lives of Americans, and I think this bill will serve them well,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.  “I appreciate Senator Alexander and Ranking Member Feinstein for their diligence and commitment to producing a sensible appropriations bill.  I look forward to its consideration by the Senate.”
“Governing is about setting priorities, and this legislation does just that by complying with the spending caps in the Budget Control Act while supporting energy, waterways and national security. The Appropriations Committee’s vote puts us one step closer to doubling basic energy research, strengthening and rebuilding our waterways and ports, removing major obstacles to the use of nuclear power, maintaining our nuclear weapons stockpile and cleaning up hazardous materials left over at Cold War facilities. This legislation is also proof that we are getting the Senate working again – I thank Senator Feinstein for her cooperation on this legislation, and look forward to its consideration on the Senate floor,” said U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. 
Highlights of the Senate FY2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill: (See documents here.)
The bill totals $35.4 billion, $1.2 billion above the FY2015 enacted level and $668 million below the President’s request.  While meeting national priorities, the legislation makes targeted reductions to lower-priority programs.
Nuclear Security – $12.3 billion, an $856 million increase over FY2015, for DOE nuclear weapons security programs, including Weapons Activities, Naval Reactors, and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation.  This includes:
  • $8.9 billion for Weapons Activities, $696 million above the FY2015 enacted level
  • $1.3 billion for Naval Reactors, $66 million above the FY2015 enacted level
  • $1.7 billion for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, $89 million above the FY2015 enacted level
Army Corps of Engineers – $5.5 billion, an increase of $45 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $768 million above the President’s budget request.  The bill provides:
  • $2.5 billion for navigation projects and studies, including $1.254 billion in funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and full use of estimated annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, to advance American competitiveness and export capabilities
  • $1.4 billion to support flood and storm damage reduction activities, including $310 million for the most critical dam safety improvements.
Bureau of Reclamation – $1.1 billion, $3 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $35 million above the President’s request, for the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation to help manage, develop, and protect the water resources of Western states.
Science Research – $5.1 billion for science research, an increase of $73 million above the FY2015 enacted level, support basic energy research, development of high-performance computing systems, and research into the next generation of clean energy sources--all important areas for lessening U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources and for improving economic competitiveness.
Environmental Cleanup – $6.0 billion for DOE environmental management activities, $167 million above the FY2015 enacted level, including $5.2 billion for Defense Environmental Cleanup to continue remediation of sites contaminated by previous nuclear weapons production. The bill also funds cleanup activities at other non-defense related nuclear sites.
Solving the Nuclear Waste Stalemate – The bill includes a pilot program for consolidated nuclear waste storage, introduced by Alexander and ranking member U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).  It also includes language that allows DOE to store nuclear waste at private facilities, such as those proposed in Texas and New Mexico.
Energy Programs – $10.5 billion, an increase of $270 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $1.1 billion below the President’s request. Within this total, the bill prioritizes and increases funding for energy programs that encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and that will advance “all-of-the-above” solution to U.S. energy independence.
Energy Research and Development – $610 million, an increase of $39 million over the FY2015 enacted level, for technologies to advance coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy resources.  In addition, the bill provides $950 million, a $116 million increase, for nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration activities.
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) – The bill eliminates funding for the U.S. contribution to ITER, which is under construction in France, saving $150 million.  ITER continues to lack an approved cost or schedule baseline and is crowding out other federal science investments where the United States has maintained leadership, including domestic fusion research, high performance computing and materials science.
Other policy items:
The bill prohibits any changes to the definition of “fill material” and “discharge of fill material” for the purposes of the Clean Water Act.