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ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2001 -- (House of Representatives - June 27, 2000)

Granted, it is important to carefully scrutinize projects ensuring that the requirements of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the

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National Historic Preservation Act are fulfilled; but 118 days does not allow much room for bureaucratic red tape, especially when one is dealing with an emergency situation involving the economic stability of a community, in addition to people's lives and well-being.

   The situation at hand is not entirely the fault of the Corps. We in Congress need to be mindful of the legislation passed. It is not implemented in a vacuum. A common sense approach to emergency situations like this, I hope, will get the attention of this committee and the committees of jurisdiction so that we might in fact find a solution to a very, very real problem in the near future.


   Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

   The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

   The text of the amendment is as follows:

   Amendment offered by Mr. Hansen:

    Page 39, after line 19, insert the following new section:

    SEC. 607. No funds appropriated under this Act shall be expended for the purpose of processing, granting, or otherwise moving forward a license, permit, or other authorization or permission for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel, low-level radioactive waste, or high-level radioactive waste on any reservation lands of the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians.

   The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House today, the gentleman from Utah (Mr. HANSEN) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

   The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah (Mr. HANSEN).

   (Mr. HANSEN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

   Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

   Mr. Chairman, I think it is very interesting that we just had an amendment earlier in the day about sludge going into a certain State. It was amazing how many people stood up and were incensed at the idea that they may have sludge go into their State.

   I find it interesting the State of Utah right now a lot of people want to put in high-level nuclear waste, and why is that? That is because many of us voted in both Houses to put a permanent place for nuclear waste in Yucca Mo untain. H owever, the President chose to veto this bill, another example of the poor, irresponsible program that they have.

   So where do we go now? We do not have a place to put it, because the President, after we spent literally billions of dollars, determined, oh, I am going to veto this. Obviously, for political reasons; but I guess he has a right to do that. So a group of five big polluters called the Private Fuel Storage, who have all of their stuff in the East right now, decided what they would do is they would go to the West.

   So they went to a place called the Goshute Indian Reservation, that is Skull Valley. Maybe some of my colleagues think it is a God-forsaken place, but a lot of folks live out there. We have a lot of military issues out in that particular area. And they decided that they could go in there and put a temporary site down.

   What is temporary? Four hundred years? I have never seen one of these temporary sites that ever stayed temporary, at least not in my lifetime. Maybe that will happen.

   Now in this situation, they decided what they are going to do. Did anyone check out the water source to see if any of these aquifers would fill up? No, not anybody.

   What about the idea that the Utah Testing and Training Range, one of the largest testing and training ranges in the world, is right there? I want to point out that 1 mile away from this site a cruise missile crashed not too long ago. Numerous F-16s, F-4s and others have crashed there. It does not seem to bother these people who have gotten these things in the East.

   Now as I look at my friends in the East, I find it very interesting that they have never been to our State, but they want to put bills in to tell us how much wilderness we can have. They want to tell us where we can have legacy highways. They want to tell us where we can do various other things, but no one bothers to come out and see it or even care. But now that we have the trash, they want to get rid of their nuclear waste. Let us put it out in Utah; that is a great place to put it. Forget about these other things. Let us put it there.

   Now it just seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that it is about time that the people out there had a say in their own destiny, that they would have the opportunity to say what they want and what they do not want.

   I find it interesting that of these five big polluters, this Private Fuel Storage, not one volt from those areas goes into the West. It all goes east of the Mississippi River. So they get the advantage of the wattage, they get the advantage of the volts, and we get the crap that is left over, if I may say that.

   So it comes down to the idea, Mr. Chairman, I personally feel that this amendment is worth doing; but my good friend, the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD), has convinced me that maybe I ought to give it some thought, and so I am thinking about it.

   Let me say this: the solicitor general of the Department of Interior has made a ruling that says the language we put in the authorization bill last year prohibits any of these things from happening until the Department of Interior and the Department of Defense gives a study to this. So why are they even looking at it? That has not been accomplished. In fact, it has not even been started.

   Let me add one other thing. I am asking the IG of the Department of Interior to look into this thing. I think they are taking advantage of some of our Indian friends out there. In my opinion, there are some financial irregularities, and I want a full investigation of it before they move out on this particular area.

   So, Mr. Chairman, in my opinion, I would hope that people from the East who love to tell the West how to run our affairs, what we can do, how we can handle our land but they never bother to come out, I wish they were all standing here now saying the beautiful area that we put all these bills in is now going to be inundated with high-level nuclear waste. I do not see them here, but I guess that is their privilege.

   Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

   Mr. HANSEN. I yield to the gentleman from California.

   Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman from Utah (Mr. HANSEN) yielding.

   Mr. Chairman, I do consider him one of my dear friends here, but I have to oppose the amendment and would urge him to withdraw the amendment.

   We should not prevent the NRC from licensing nuclear waste disposal sites. It is very difficult to find suitable sites, and in this instance we should certainly not interfere with the established procedures of the NRC. I would hope that the investigation that has been mentioned by the gentleman from Utah (Mr. HANSEN) would shed light on where we should go with this in the future, but let us not kill it tonight.

   Mr. HANSEN. Would the gentleman like to have it in his district?

   Mr. PACKARD. I do not know that there is any room in my district for it. It is already filled with houses.

   Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.

   The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Utah?

   There was no objection.


   Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

   The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

   The text of the amendment is as follows:

   Amendment offered by Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin:

    At the end of the bill, insert after the last section (preceding the short title) the following new section:

    SEC. __. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for construction of the National Ignition Facility.

   The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House today, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. RYAN) and a Member opposed will each control 5 minutes.

   The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. RYAN).

   Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. KUCINICH), a co-sponsor of this amendment.

   Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Ryan-Kucinich

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amendment. I rise in support of nuclear nonproliferation and concern for U.S. taxpayers.

   The National Ignition Facility, NIF, is planned to be the most powerful laser in the world, a super laser designed to test U.S. nuclear weapons through laboratory simulations of nuclear explosions.

   The construction of this facility will promote the expansion of nuclear weapons testing at a time when the United States should be working toward nonproliferation both here and internationally.

   I strongly support cutting $74.1 million, the construction budget for the National Ignition Facility. This investment in nuclear weapons research capabilities runs counter to achieving a comprehensive test ban treaty and undermines efforts worldwide to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons.

   The NIH would enhance the capability for design of new nuclear weapons and modification of existing weapons. Laboratory directors might then agree that some of the new nuclear weapons cannot be reliably certified without full scale nuclear testing, providing a rationale for future testing.

   The creation of new nuclear weapons may serve to ignite a new arms race.

   Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to the amendment.

   Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

   Mr. Chairman, this project has been underway for 5 years now. To interrupt the ongoing construction project, I think, would be very inappropriate, would be a very wasteful effort with monies that have already been expended. I would strongly urge that we oppose the amendment and allow us to continue the project. The committee has provided $80 million for the National Ignition Facility in this bill. This is less than the Department of Energy wanted. The Department requested $95 million, but the committee did not believe that the Department had provided sufficient information on the new cost schedule. Therefore, we funded it, however, at $80 million. We certainly are not passing judgment on the quality of the project at this time, but we should not take the money away from it.

   I also understand that there are several Members that wish to speak on this.

   Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from California (Mrs. TAUSCHER).

   (Mrs. TAUSCHER asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)

   Mrs. TAUSCHER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) for yielding.

   Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the Kucinich-Ryan amendment. This amendment would eliminate funding for construction of the National Ignition Facility, called the NIF, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It would waste nearly $1 billion that has already been spent on development of this important project. It would contradict the action this House took last month when we authorized $175 million for the NIF.

   Most importantly, this amendment would severely cripple our Nation's arms control and nonproliferation efforts.

   The United States has made a commitment to end nuclear testing, and that commitment is a fundamental tenet of our national security. In the absence of testing, Mr. Chairman, the only way to maintain an effective, secure, reliable nuclear deterrent is through a science-based stockpile stewardship program.

   Mr. Chairman, the NIF is the cornerstone of that program. The NIF is the best way to ensure the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons and to promote arms control and nonproliferation.

   I urge my colleagues very strongly to oppose the Kucinich-Ryan amendment.

   Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

   Mr. Chairman, this NIF project is over budget. It is behind schedule. It has experienced several technical difficulties and problems. It has been criticized by the other labs, and it has been plagued with mismanagement.

   For example, first in the FY 2000 energy and water appropriations bill, the committee asked the DOE for a rebaselining of costs by June 1 of 2000 for this year's appropriations. However, the DOE has pushed off this deadline until mid-September, conveniently past the appropriations date.

   Given the fact that the GAO report has cited so many problems with the management and the construction of this facility, which DOE acknowledges, these overruns should not be continued. Congress should not appropriate these funds until we have that rebaselining report.

   Second, a GAO report again was requested by the House Committee on Science last September in 1999. However, we still do not have this report yet, but we have found some preliminary findings from the draft report which is imminently due, yet not in time for this appropriations bill.

   It shows that the cost estimates are still being overrun. It shows that a project management assessment was required as part of the DOD authorization bill in this year, and that has not been done.

   It shows that this project began as a $1.2 billion project in 1997 and then slipped to $2.1 billion in the year 2000, according to the DOE. Now the GAO is telling us this thing is going to cost us between $3.6 billion and $4 billion.


[Time: 22:00]

   This has tripled in costs over the last 3 years alone, the management problems, the cost overruns, the fact that the other laboratories, Sandia specifically, is saying this ought to be scaled back, because it does pilfer from other laboratory programs, which seeks to serve the same purposes.

   Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

   Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. SPRATT).

   (Mr. SPRATT asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

   Mr. SPRATT. Mr. Chairman, the NIF is esoteric physics, but it is essential to the quest for reliability of nuclear weapons. If my colleagues believe, as I do that we should forebear testing and one day ratify the comprehensive test band treaty, believe me canceling NIF is not the way to do it.

   What does the NIF do? The NIF essentially creates the conditions inside of a thermonuclear weapon to an extent we have never been able to explore before, and it helps us to ensure the reliability of our nuclear weapons to validate these complex computer models that we have developed and know that they are reliable.

   Mr. Chairman, if we ask anyone to list the challenges to our security, almost everyone will say that this spread of fissile materials and nuclear weapons leads to less. One way to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons is to stop the testing that proves unfeasible, but it is hard for us to advocate that others should not test if we test.

   The CTBT, therefore, is one of the key pieces to this puzzle, but politically, the CTBT is unlikely to be ratified in country until we are satisfied that our arsenal is reliable and secure and to that end, the NIF is essential; that is why we must proceed with this project and defeat this amendment.

   Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. KUCINICH).

   Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. RYAN) for yielding to me.

   Mr. Chairman, many experts agree that the National Ignition Facility has no relevance to its goal of maintaining the nuclear arsenal. Edward Teller, better known as the Father of the Atomic Bomb when asked about the NIF's usefulness in maintaining nuclear weapons he replied, none whatsoever.

   Los Alamos's theoretical weapon physicist Rod Schultz wrote that the NIF supposed importance to the weapons stockpile does not reflect the technical judgment of the nuclear weapons designed community. Eliminating funding for the National Ignition Facility does not cut funding for research and development for any future commercial energy technology.

   Mr. Chairman, our future energy path is clearly in renewable technologies, such as fuel cells, wind and solar power. As the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. RYAN) has said, NIF is a budgetary black hole. The Department of Energy's initial estimate of NIF's cost overruns were about $350 million,

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but current cost overruns estimates from the DOE stand between $750 million to $1 billion, 100 percent more than originally estimated.

   Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. VISCLOSKY).

   Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.

   Mr. Chairman, I also rise in opposition to the amendment. I do think the NIF is an important program. Clearly there have been some very serious problems that have angered everyone in this body, and clearly have angered the Secretary of Energy; that is why a penalty was imposed, that is why $55 million of the proposed $95 million additional investment that needs to be made is going to come out of the hide of the contractor essentially Lawrence Livermore.

   I do think that the Department of Energy, finding a very serious problem, is trying to take the appropriate corrective action, I do not believe the amendment of the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. RYAN) is in the best interests of our national security or the testing program and do oppose the amendment.

   Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

   Mr. Chairman, this amendment is very simple. It does not cut off the research and development. I am not suggesting that I am opposing the goal of this project, what it does it says do not go forward with the construction because of these amazing mismanagement problems, because of these phenomenal cost overruns, because of the fact that this project has been delayed in its implementation due to these problems for years.

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