Washington - Today, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Full Committee ordered reported the fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Development funding legislation that totals $37.5 billion in discretionary budget authority, which is $355 million more than fiscal year 2016 and $261 million more than the President’s request.
“In a year of tight budgets, this bill represents some very tough decisions in the vital areas of water infrastructure and energy research," said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations committee. "In order to boost domestic science programs, we made the tough decision to cut funding for the ITER project. This decision was carefully considered and absolutely necessary in order to make key investments in our national laboratories and universities. I’m particularly pleased that we were able to fund the Army Corps of Engineers at a level of $6 billion so they can carry on their important work. The bill also provides $1.275 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation, including $100 million to address the devastating drought in the West. As is often the case, I don’t agree with every aspect of this bill but I believe it is a very reasonable and bipartisan agreement that Chairman Alexander and I can work together to get through the Senate.”
All of the total increase is within defense activities with Weapons Activities receiving $438 million more than fiscal year 2016. The one notable increase in non-defense activities is an additional $50 million for the Office of Science. Nearly all other non-defense accounts are even or close to even with the fiscal year 2016 enacted levels.
Key Points & Highlights
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: The bill provides $6 billion to fund the nation’s water infrastructure. The bill utilizes fiscal year 2017 revenues generated from the Inland Waterway Trust Fund and meets the target for projects eligible for Harbor Maintenance Trust Funds. Every one dollar spent on Army Corps of Engineer projects nets $16 in economic benefits.
Bureau of Reclamation: The bill provides $1.275 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation within the Department of Interior to fund water supply projects and programs in the western United States. This includes $100 million in urgent drought relief funds. Both funding levels are equal to fiscal year 2016. As the drought expands in the West, additional funds are needed to develop water reuse projects and construct new water supply infrastructure.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs: The bill provides $2.073 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, equal to fiscal year 2016. This funding supports sustainable transportation programs that develop new fuels, lightweight materials, and vehicle engines; energy efficiency programs that develop standards and technologies to reduce energy bills; and renewable energy programs that work to lower the cost of solar, wind, geothermal, and water power technologies. Focus remains on the Advanced Manufacturing subprogram with full funding of the manufacturing institutes, the Critical Materials Hub and the Desalination Hub.
Basic Scientific Research: The bill provides $5.4 billion for the Office of Science, $50 million more than fiscal year 2016. Nearly all Office of Science programs see significant increases and the bill fully funds the requested operational levels of scientific user facilities at the national laboratories. The bill zeros out funding for the ITER fusion project in France and uses these funds to get other Science programs funded at or close to the President’s request level. The Department of Energy is the largest single provider of funding for basic research in the physical sciences in the country. Increasing the availability of our world-class scientific facilities as well as expanding research at our top universities needs additional support if America is to continue being a global leader in science and engineering.
Environmental Cleanup: Cleanup of Cold War and other nuclear sites is funded at $6.351 billion. This program addresses a legacy of radioactive and hazardous contamination at sites across the country and the bill addresses many of the highest environmental risks posed by these sites.
Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: The bill funds the National Nuclear Security Administration at $12.867 billion. Efforts to extend the life of the current nuclear weapons stockpile are fully funded. The Naval Reactor program fully funds the Ohio Class replacement reactor program. Funding for the Nonproliferation program meets the budget request level.