Alexander: Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Provides Record Level of Funding for Energy Research, Vital Water Infrastructure

Posted on May 1, 2017

Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said the Omnibus Appropriations bill, which includes the final version of the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, announced today provides a record level of funding for basic energy research, supports vital water infrastructure projects, and maintains our nuclear weapons stockpile.

“This bill demonstrates our commitment to building and maintaining our nation’s water infrastructure, to driving forward basic energy research in the Office of Science and high-impact research at ARPA-E, and to strengthening our national security by maintaining our nuclear weapons stockpile,” Alexander said. “The appropriations process is how Congress sets priorities and conducts oversight, and this bill is consistent with the spending limits Congress set in the Budget Control Act and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.”

Alexander noted that mandatory spending – which includes out-of-control entitlement spending that is driving the growth in the federal debt – made up about 63 percent of overall federal spending in 2016. Discretionary spending – the part of the budget that is already subject to spending caps under the Budget Control Act – made up about 31 percent of federal spending in 2016 and funds national defense, national labs, national parks and other federal priorities.

Alexander continued, “Sen. Feinstein and I have worked hard to set bipartisan energy and water priorities, and I urge my colleagues to support these provisions.”

The bill also provides additional funding and oversight for the Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to ensure it remains on schedule and on budget. The bill also supports programs to clean up Cold War-era nuclear facilities.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill includes the following priorities that are important to Tennessee:

  • The U.S Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which supports basic energy research and is the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences, is funded at $5.392 billion, a record funding level in a regular appropriations bill.
  • The bill provides $6.038 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – also a record funding level in a regular appropriations bill. The bill makes full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund revenues for water infrastructure projects, including up to $19.3 million to continue construction of Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga.  A total of $1.301 billion is also provided for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which funds projects at coastal harbors which connect with our nation’s inland waterways.
  • The Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex is funded at $575 million, which will continue to keep this project on time and on budget, with a completion year of 2025 at a cost no greater than $6.5 billion.
  • The legislation sends a strong signal of support for developing new technologies that will support the next generation of nuclear power plants, and continues ongoing work to help ensure the lives of existing reactors can be safely extended. The bill includes $94.5 million for Advanced Reactors, which is $21 million more than the president’s budget request. The bill also provides $95 million for Small Modular Reactors, $40 million to continue research and development to safely extend reactor licenses from 60 to 80 years, and $24 million for advanced modeling and simulation to improve current and future reactor operations.
  • The bill advances efforts to clean up hazardous materials at Cold War-era sites. The legislation provides $5.4 billion to support defense cleanup efforts, which is $170 million above the president’s budget request.
  • $1. 31 billion is provided for advanced computing, including funding from both the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The Office of Science’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research Program, which supports the new Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is funded at $647 million.
  • This bill also supports the Department of Energy’s continued efforts to advance “exascale” computing and provides $295 million to develop the next generation of computers.
  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is funded at $306 million. ARPA-E was created by the 2007 America COMPETES Act to invest in high-impact energy technologies.
  • The bill cuts funding for several lower priority programs at the Department of Energy, including reducing funds for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor in France by $65 million from last year (Fiscal Year 2016). 
  • The bill provides $2.1 million for dredging at Memphis Harbor McKellar Lake.
  • The bill includes $1.34 billion to continue the four ongoing nuclear weapons life extension programs, which fix or replace components in weapons systems to make sure they're safe and reliable.