Energy and Water Conference Report

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development fiscal year 2019 funding legislation totals $44.6 billion in discretionary budget authority, $1.4 billion more than fiscal year 2018, $874 million more than the Senate bill, and $60 million less than the House bill. 

Bipartisan Budget Agreement – The bipartisan budget agreement resulted in a $6.9 billion increase compared to fiscal year 2017 levels, including $2.5 billion for defense programs and $4.4 billion in non-defense programs. 

Among defense programs, this increase funds the modernization of our nuclear weapons complex, including an additional $468 million to improve infrastructure at nuclear weapons sites and $369 million to recapitalize facilities for our nuclear navy. 

Among non-defense programs, the budget deal enables a substantial increased investment in our water infrastructure, including $307 million for new and existing construction projects and $602 million to revitalize existing port and riverine facilities and waterways.  It also supports a nearly $1.2 billion increase in our investment in basic scientific research, including $300 million for new or upgraded facilities and equipment. 

The budget deal also supports a $766 million increase to applied research and development for fossil, renewable, and nuclear energy sources, bringing new technology to market and ensuring American leadership in advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and grid resilience. 


The bill provides $8.56 billion to improve the nation’s water infrastructure, which includes a record level of funding for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program at $6.999 billion, an increase of $916 million over fiscal year 2017. Funding for the Corps will be used to build flood control projects that reduce the risk of flood and storm damage and the maintenance of our ports, harbors, and inland waterways. It also includes $1.565 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation, an increase of $248 million over fiscal year 2017, to assist the western states in maintaining water supply for Tribes, rural communities, and parts of the country experiencing drought conditions.  The bill provides $7.180 billion for environmental cleanup of legacy Cold War sites, an increase of $760 million from fiscal year 2017.  The bill provides the Office of Science an increase of over $300 million across various facilities and research machines, including computing, light source upgrades, new buildings, and basic infrastructure at the national laboratories. 

Scientific Research

The bill also provides $11.672 billion to support basic and applied scientific research to make America more competitive in clean energy and other high-technology endeavors.  ARPA-E is increased by $60 million for a total of $366 million rather than being terminated as proposed by the President.  The Office of Science is increased by $1.2 billion from fiscal year 2017 for a total of $6.585 billion, with the increase being divided between increased research and infrastructure investments.

Key Points & Highlights

Title I—Corps of Engineers

The bill includes the highest-ever level of funding for the Army Corps’ Civil Works program at $6.999 billion, $172 million over fiscal year 2018 and $916 million over fiscal year 2017. For every dollar spent, there is $16.60 in net economic benefits from the flood damages avoided as a result of the Corps’ flood control mission and the transportation rate savings yielded from transporting goods on waterways.

Title II—Department of the Interior

The bill provides $1.565 billion for the Department of Interior, which is $248 million more than fiscal year 2017 and $85 million more than fiscal year 2018.  This amount includes $15 million for the Central Utah Project and $1.55 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation. 

Funding for the Bureau of Reclamation includes $196 million to fund Western drought programs under the WIIN Act. These programs fund long-term drought strategies including, water storage, water recycling and reuse, and desalination.

Title III-Department of Energy (DOE)

The Energy and Water bill provides $35.685 billion for DOE.  This amount is $4.939 billion more than the fiscal year 2017 level and $1.165 billion over fiscal year 2018. 


Scientific Discovery: The bill provides $6.585 billion, $1.2 billion more than fiscal year 2017 and $325 million, for the Office of Science.  The Office of Science is the largest federal sponsor of basic research in the physical sciences, and supports 22,000 researchers at 17 national laboratories and more than 300 universities.  The bill continues to advance the highest priorities in materials research, high performance computing and biology to maintain U.S. scientific leadership.

Applied Energy Research and Development: The bill provides $5.087 billion for applied energy programs, $766 million more than fiscal year 2017 and $232 million more than 2018.  This funding supports research, development, demonstration and deployment of an extensive range of clean energy technologies, including for nuclear, fossil and renewable energy applications, that keep the United States at the forefront of energy innovation.  This amount includes $366 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop next-generation, innovative energy technologies.

Nonproliferation: The bill provides $1.949 billion for nonproliferation activities that reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.  This amount will continue efforts to secure and permanently eliminate remaining stockpiles of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials around the world.  The bill also invests in new technologies that can detect uranium and plutonium production activities in foreign countries.

Nuclear Weapons: The bill provides $11.1 billion, which is $1.782 billion more than fiscal year 2017 and $458 million more than fiscal year 2018, for nuclear weapons activities.  This amount will invest in the science, technology and engineering needed to maintain a safe and secure stockpile without underground nuclear weapons testing; and upgrade or replace aging infrastructure, especially for uranium and plutonium activities.

Naval Reactors: The bill provides $1.789 billion, which is $368 million more than fiscal year 2017 and $168 million more than fiscal year 2018.  This amount includes $138 million to continue the design of a 40-year nuclear reactor core to power the Ohio-class submarine, and $250 million to refuel a research and training reactor in New York. 

Environmental Cleanup: The bill provides a total of $7.180 billion, $760 million more than fiscal year 2017 and $23 million more than fiscal year 2018, for environmental cleanup activities across the DOE complex. 

Title IV—Independent Agencies

The Energy and Water bill provides $390 million for eight independent agencies, including the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, five regional commissions, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.  This amount includes $130 million for the NRC.

Better Outcome

The House bill included 11 poison pill policy riders that would have rolled back regulations to protect the environment and our country’s water resources.  The conference agreement eliminated all of these poison pill riders, including:  

  • WOTUS: This rider would legislatively repeal the WOTUS rule, circumventing the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires that any regulations undergo a notice and comment process to withdraw an existing rulemaking.
  • Clean Water Act, Agriculture Exemption: This rider prohibited the Corps from using funds to administer Clean Water Act permits for the discharge of dredged or fill material into protected wetlands, which would otherwise be required for farmers to undertake certain farming activities.
  • Columbia River Biological Opinion: This rider would have inserted Congress into ongoing federal litigation over an Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act issue concerning the biological opinion that govern operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System.
  • Clean Water Act, Fallow Fields: This rider prohibits the Corps from administering Clean Water Act permits for discharge of dredged or fill material on prior converted croplands that have become fallow, i.e., not been used for an agricultural purpose within the last five consecutive years, in contravention of current law.

The House bill also cut energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and the highly-successful Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy that makes small, targeted investments in breakthrough technologies that have the potential to transform our economy.  The conference agreement adds $226 million to these and other applied energy programs. 

# # #