This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 1186, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2000, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The allocation of discretionary resources available to the Senate under the Congressional Budget Resolution is simply inadequate to make the necessary investments that our citizens need and expect. The President's FY 2000 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending that meet such needs while conforming to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings proposals in mandatory and other programs available to help finance this spending. Congress has approved and the President has signed into law nearly $29 billion of such offsets in appropriations legislation since 1995. The Administration urges the Congress to consider such proposals.
The Administration appreciates efforts by the Senate Appropriations Committee to accommodate certain of the President's priorities within the 302(b) allocation. However, the Senate bill is nearly $200 million below the program level requested by the President and includes significant reductions in a number of high priority programs. These concerns are discussed below.
Department of Energy
The Administration is concerned with the large shift in the Committee bill from key domestic priorities of the Department of Energy (DOE) to fund Atomic Energy Defense Activities. The bill provides $267 million less than the President's request for DOE's domestic programs and adds $261 million to the President's request for defense activities ($619 million more than the FY 1999 enacted level, excluding a one-time emergency supplemental appropriation). The bill would significantly reduce vital programs in energy research and other activities to fund unrequested enhancements to nuclear weapons and other defense activities that are also not related to counterintelligence and security concerns.
Specific cuts include:
- Solar and Renewable Energy. The Administration strongly opposes the $98 million reduction from the President's request for research and development (R&D) in solar and renewable resources technologies (including the use of $6 million of carryover balances, thus reducing the total appropriation). The Committee mark would cripple both Administration efforts to accelerate the introduction of critical renewable energy technologies as well as important R&D efforts to make these clean energy sources more affordable.
- Environmental Management. The Administration opposes the $40 million reduction to the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund. At the Committee-recommended funding levels, the Department would be unable to meet requirements for activities at Oak Ridge, as well as ongoing cleanup activities at Portsmouth, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky, uranium enrichment facilities.
- Science. The Administration opposes the lack of funding in the bill for the Information Technology Initiative for the 21st Century and for the Next Generation Internet Initiative. Both of these initiatives would propel revolutionary breakthroughs in information technology and scientific computing in the United States.
The Administration opposes the $27 million reduction to the request for construction of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). We continue to believe that the FY 2000 request represents the optimum funding level. As the funding level decreases, the risk of project cost increases and delays rises. Construction of the SNS must be completed in a timely manner to enable our best scientists to explore critical problems in fundamental science and applications for our materials and biotechnology industries.
In addition, the Administration regrets that the Committee has not restored the funding required to complete the final phase of activities at the Bates Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Departmental Administration. The Administration opposes the reductions in Departmental Administration programs. The reductions would impair implementation of Secretarial management initiatives now underway to restructure field management, reorganize security functions, enforce reductions in contractor travel and other overhead costs, and improve construction management.
- Yucca Mountain. The Administration opposes the reduction of $54 million from the request for the civilian radioactive waste program. This reduction would threaten planned scientific, engineering, and design work essential to finalizing the Yucca Mountain repository design. This work is necessary to guide DOE's FY 2001 site suitability determination for Yucca Mountain. Reductions in funding for this work would jeopardize DOE's ability to meet its FY 2002 license application milestone if the site is found to be suitable. The proposed reduction would also reduce the Department's ability to provide a remedy for its 1998 waste acceptance obligations, which are currently in litigation.
Power Marketing Administration
The Administration is disappointed that the Committee has not accepted the Administration's proposal to revise the financing of the Power Marketing Administration's Purchase Power and Wheeling programs. The Administration would like to continue to work with the Senate to restructure the funding mechanism for these programs.
The Administration believes it is premature for the bill to include provisions for a realignment of the facilities and missions of the Department's National Laboratories and facilities in support of the Stockpile Stewardship program. The Department has begun initial studies of possible realignments and will work with Congress as soon as the Administration has completed its analysis. No major action can be taken to implement such a plan until appropriate studies are completed, including revisions to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Stockpile Stewardship and Management.
Army Corps of Engineers
The Administration strongly objects to a provision in the Regulatory Program appropriation that would short-circuit the review process for wetlands jurisdictional determinations by making the review of these initial decisions appealable to the Federal courts prior to a final permit decision. Although the Administration supports the creation of an administrative review process for these determinations, the bill would generate unnecessary and premature litigation, set back efforts to ensure a fair and amicable resolution of potential disputes, and undermine the ability of citizens and communities to participate on an equal footing in the permit process.
The Administration is concerned that the $145 million reduction to the President's request (not including rescissions) for the Army Corps of Engineers would result in significant delays for certain critical construction projects. Of particular concern are reductions from the request to the Columbia River Fish Mitigation project, from $100 million to $70 million; the Everglades (FL) project, from $110 million to $92 million; and, the Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay Channel (NY, NJ) project, from $60 million to $40 million. In addition, the Administration opposes the bill's prohibitions against studying drawdown of John Day and McNary dams. These prohibitions could hamper the objective analysis necessary to formulate Columbia and Snake River salmon recovery plans.
We also urge Congress to enact the Administration's Harbor Services Fund proposal, which would provide a stable source of funding for port and harbor activities and free up funds for priority projects and programs. If the Administration's Harbor Services Fund proposal is not adopted, then we urge Congress to fund port and harbor operation and maintenance activities from the existing Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund with the user revenues collected specifically for that purpose, rather than from the general fund as proposed by the Committee.
Bureau of Reclamation
The Committee proposal to reduce the Bureau of Reclamation budget by $95 million, or 11 percent, would significantly affect the Bureau's ability to continue to operate its water supply projects throughout the West while complying with relevant Federal laws. The Administration urges the Senate to restore these funds.
In particular, we urge the Senate to fully fund the $95 million request for the CALFED Bay-Delta program. The Committee's $45 million reduction and accompanying funding restrictions would delay Federal and State efforts to restore this important ecosystem.
In addition, we urge the Senate to enact the Administration's proposal to convert the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund from a current discretionary to a permanent account. This will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to operate the program efficiently and ensure that all the authorized collections from project beneficiaries are used to mitigate project impacts, as intended by the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.