S. 2804 – Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017
Background: The fiscal year 2017 energy and water appropriations bill was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 14 on a 30-0 vote. The vehicle for floor debate is H.R. 2028, the House’s fiscal year 2016 energy and water appropriations bill.
Floor Situation: The Senate is expected to debate the bill during the week of April 18.
Executive Summary: The bill would fund the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other agencies for fiscal year 2017 at $37.5 billion in regular discretionary budget authority. This is consistent with the 302(b) allocations derived from the Appropriations Committee’s total 302(a) allocation of $1.07 trillion.
Considerations on the Bill
The Appropriations Committee’s 302(a) allocation for all appropriations bills is $1.07 trillion, equal to the amount contained in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The energy and water bill’s total spending of $37.5 billion is $355 million greater than that in fiscal year 2016, and it is $261 million greater than the president’s budget request. Due to the administration’s practice in its budget request of cutting discretionary funding for various activities and then proposing new mandatory funding for these activities as a way to get around budget caps, comparisons with the president’s budget request should be made with caution.
Defense – function 050 – funding is $20 billion in the bill, the majority of which is for U.S. nuclear security. Non-defense funding is $17.5 billion. The bill does not contain any mandatory funding.
Notable Bill Provisions
Department of Energy
The Department of Energy is funded at $30.7 billion, which is $1 billion greater than in fiscal year 2016.
National Nuclear Security Administration
The National Nuclear Security Administration is funded at $12.9 billion, an increase of $341 million from fiscal year 2016. Within this amount, there are: $9.3 billion for weapons activities, an increase of $438 million from last year’s level; $1.8 billion for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, a decrease of $118 million from last year’s level; and $1.4 billion for naval reactors, an increase of $45 million from last year’s level. In report language, the committee required a report on the Long-Range Stand-Off missile, including the decision to use the W80 nuclear warhead in that weapon.
DOE Energy Programs
Energy programs at the Department of Energy are funded at $11.2 billion, an increase of $157 million from fiscal year 2016. Included within this amount are research activities at DOE’s office of science, which is funded at $5.4 billion, an increase of $50 million from last year’s level.
Environmental management activities, including cleanup activities, are funded at $6.4 billion, an increase of $133 million from fiscal year 2016. Within this amount are $5.4 billion for defense environmental cleanup and $255 million for non-defense environmental cleanup.
Fossil Energy Research and Development
Fossil energy research and development is funding at $632 million, equal to fiscal year 2016.
Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy
ARPA-E is funded at $292.7 million, an increase of $1.7 million from fiscal year 2016. The committee report states that ARPA-E’s focus for fiscal year 2017 will be “on transportation fuels and feedstocks; energy materials and processes; dispatchable energy; and sensors, information and integration.”
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor
The bill eliminates U.S. funding for this project, currently being built in France.
Nuclear Waste Pilot Project
The bill contains authority for the secretary of energy to conduct a pilot program to consolidate nuclear waste storage. Specifically, the secretary is authorized “to license, construct, and operate 1 or more government or privately owned consolidated storage facilities to provide interim storage as needed for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.” Sen. Alexander stated in the full committee markup that this pilot program is not intended to replace Yucca Mountain as a nuclear storage site, but rather to complement it.
Army Corps of Engineers
The Army Corps of Engineers is funded at $6 billion, an increase of $11 million from fiscal year 2016. This amount is $1.4 billion greater than the president’s budget request. The president had proposed large cuts to the Corps, without any offsetting new mandatory funding to replace it. The committee provides funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund above the target given for the Corps of Engineers in the Water Resources Development Act of 2014.
Bureau of Reclamation
The Bureau of Reclamation is funded at $1.1 billion, an increase of $327 million from the president’s budget request.
Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission is funded at $151 million, an increase of $5 million from fiscal year 2016.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is funded at $939 million. However receipts to the commission are estimated to total $822 million in fiscal year 2017, meaning a net appropriation of $117 million, which is nearly identical to the fiscal year 2016 net appropriation level.
General Provisions, Section 103
This section prohibits use of funds during fiscal year 2017 to develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce any change to the regulations in effect on October 1, 2012, pertaining to the definitions of the terms “fill material” or “discharge of fill material” for purposes of the Clean Water Act.
A statement of administration policy is not available at this time.
The bill contains $37.5 billion in regular discretionary budget authority, which is consistent with the 302(b) allocations derived from the Appropriations Committee’s total 302(a) allocation of $1.07 trillion.
In committee, several amendments were offered and then withdrawn. Three amendments offered by Democrats are noteworthy and will likely be offered on the floor:
- Merkley – This amendment would increase research and development funding for wind energy.
- Coons – This amendment would require a study from GAO on the impacts of the export of crude oil.
- Schatz – This amendment would increase funding for ARPA-E.
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