"I Am Proud To Announce Tonight That the Senate Voted In Favor Of Legislation to Ensure Highway Projects In Oklahoma and the Nation Can Continue As Scheduled."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, tonight said that the Senate vote in favor of the short term solution for the Highway Trust fund is great news for Oklahoma. Last Friday, Congress was notified by the Department of Transportation that the Highway Trust Fund would run out of money sometime in the next two weeks. As recently as this summer, DOT estimated it would remain solvent until next summer. However, due largely to extremely high gas prices, receipts deposited into the Highway Trust Fund have been dropping precipitously in recent months. That combined with a busy construction season caused the trust fund balance to fall from $4.2 billion at the end of July to less than $1.4 billion at the beginning of September. State DOTs responded to this announcement by delaying vital construction projects. Through his leadership position on the EPW Committee, Senator Inhofe successfully worked with his Senate colleagues to ensure passage of a short term fix.
"As a long time champion for Oklahoma's transportation needs, I am proud to announce tonight that the Senate voted in favor of legislation to ensure highway projects in Oklahoma and the Nation will be able to continue as scheduled," Senator Inhofe said. "Through my leadership position on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I have spent the last few days reaching out to Republicans and Democrats colleagues to ensure passage of this critical bill that will allow projects to continue as planned. Tonight I am proud to announce we got the job done in the Senate.
"This bill simply returns the $8 billion back into the Trust Fund that was taken out 10 years ago in TEA21. Although I agree with some of my colleagues that the Highway program has grown to include things that are not in the federal interest and do nothing to save lives or reduce congestion, these issues are more appropriately dealt with in the upcoming highway reauthorization in 2009.
"I want to especially thank Oklahoma Highway Director, Gary Ridley, whom I believe is the best highway director in the country, for his leadership on this issue over the past few days. I have had many a phone calls with Gary at odd hours of the day and night and I can confirm that he is always available and on top of things. In fact, he and I have been in close contact since it became clear that the Highway Trust Fund could go broke as early as this week. Today, he was here in Washington DC to testify before my Committee and I am happy that when he heads back to Oklahoma tomorrow he can rest assured a fix will be going back with him."
Floor Remarks by Senator Inhofe
This past Friday, I was notified by the Department of Transportation that the Highway Trust Fund would run out of money sometime in the next two weeks.
As recently as this summer, DOT estimated it would remain solvent until next summer. However, due largely to extremely high gas prices, receipts deposited into the Highway Trust Fund have been dropping precipitously in recent months.
That combined with a busy construction season caused the trust fund balance to fall from $4.2 billion at the end of July to less than $1.4 billion at the beginning of September. State DOTs responded to this announcement by delaying vital construction projects.
In my state of Oklahoma, the director of the state DOT, Gary Ridley, was forced to take dramatic-and prudent-actions. $80 million in projects that were bid in August were postponed. A further $60 million in projects scheduled to be let in September are on hold until the trust fund is fixed.
Furthermore, at the point when the trust fund officially runs out of money-which will be within the next 8 days unless we enact a fix-work on countless projects currently under construction will be halted.
The uncertainty over the Federal Government's ability to make good on financial promises made in law is forcing states to substantially disrupt their highway programs, resulting in thousands of lost construction jobs.
This could not have happened at a worse time, as our nation is in the height of its construction season. It goes without out saying that we can not afford to sustain this unnecessary hit to our economy.
Once a project is cancelled or delayed, and jobs are lost, it is not as simple as just restarting the project, as there will be penalties to the states and in many cases a new contracting process. For states that depend on federal dollars for a majority of their transportation spending, like mine and many others, failing to make this fix in short order will be catastrophic for our states.
Finally, despite arguments to the contrary, HR 6532 is not a raid on the general fund.
In fact the opposite is true, Section 9004 of TEA21 deemed that on October 1, 1998, the opening balance of the Highway Trust Fund shall be $8 billion, even though on the day before, the balance was over $16 billion.
I ask my colleagues what happened to that other $8 billion . . . the answer is it was transferred over to the general fund.
In reality, this is money that was raised by highway users. This bill simply returns the money back into the Trust Fund to be used for what taxpayers thought they were paying for in the first place.
Now, those who were involved in the debate at that time will argue that the $8 billion transfer to the general fund was a part of the overall TEA-21 deal.
I thought it was a bad deal then and I still think it was a bad deal.
Furthermore, TEA21 stated that no longer would the general fund pay interest to the Trust Fund for any balances.
In other words, the general fund has had a 10 year interest free loan from the Trust Fund.
Giving back the $8 billion to the Trust Fund now is not fiscally irresponsible, it's the right thing to do.
Although I agree with some of my colleagues that the Highway program has grown to include things that are not in the federal interest and do nothing to safe lives or reduce congestion, these issues are more appropriately dealt with in the upcoming highway reauthorization in 2009.
Now is not the time to stall Congressional legislation that restores the $8 million, taken from the Trust Fund in 1998. The fact is, a significant number of jobs depend on Congress' immediate action.
Failing to act would be devastating not only for our state's infrastructure, but also for our jobs and economy.
Previous Press Releases:
By Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Dan Boren
September 12, 2008
Earlier this year, we joined together to introduce bipartisan and bicameral legislation, the Marginal Well Production Preservation and Enhancement Act. We believe — as most Oklahomans do — that we need to take advantage of domestic resources of oil and natural gas. One such opportunity we can take advantage of in Oklahoma is marginal wells.
While a marginal well is defined as one that produces 15 barrels or less of oil per day, the average marginal well produces less than 2.2 barrels of oil per day. Yet, according to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, these marginal wells contribute nearly 18 percent of the oil and 9 percent of the natural gas produced in America.
Here in Oklahoma, it is the small independents, basically mom-and-pop operations that produce the majority of oil and natural gas with 85 percent of Oklahoma's oil coming from marginal wells. In fact, marginal wells produced more than 335 million barrels of oil in the United States in 2006. That's equivalent to more than 60 percent as much as the United States imports annually from Saudi Arabia or 67 percent as much as the nation imports annually from Venezuela.
In addition to reducing our dependence on foreign oil, a producing well provides state and federal taxes, pays royalties to land and mineral owners, and keeps jobs and dollars on American soil and in American pockets. A plugged well provides none of this. On the contrary, the IOGCC reported that in 2006, plugged and abandoned marginal wells resulted in the loss of $1.77 billion in economic output, $369.2 million in earnings reductions and 8,223 lost jobs.
These statistics testify to the importance of America's marginal well production. With gasoline prices at record highs, Congress must ensure that government policies don't discourage, and instead, prolong and enhance production from these low-volume wells.
Our legislation will help reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil by streamlining and clarifying government regulations, prolonging economic feasibility, and enhancing production volumes from marginal wells. Every onshore oil and gas well in the nation eventually declines into marginal production. Our bill ensures that the nation's policies recognize and reflect the economic importance of those marginal wells.
To be sure, our bill is just one component of what must be a comprehensive approach to new energy production that will ensure we have an abundant, domestic and affordable energy supply. Both of us have long advocated for producing energy from proven reserves in Alaska, offshore and the Rocky Mountain West. At the same time, we must continue the effort of developing new renewable fuels and further production of natural gas — of which Oklahoma continues to be a leader. Importantly, developing and expanding domestic energy will translate into energy independence and well-paying jobs for Oklahomans and Americans.
INHOFE/BOREN INTRODUCE BI-PARTISAN “MARGINAL WELL PRODUCTION PRESERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT ACT” WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today introduced with Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK), the Marginal Well Production Preservation and Enhancement Act. This bipartisan and bicameral bill ensures that the nation’s policies recognize and reflect the economic importance of marginal well production. The average marginal well produces less than 2.2 barrels of oil per day.
INHOFE LANDS A 1-2 PUNCH FOR LOWER FUEL PRICES AND BETTER ROADS WASHINGTON, DC - Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, joined fellow GOP Senators and members of the U.S. trucking industry to call for lower gas prices to help truckers ship goods, met with Oklahoma business leader Dan Ustian, President and CEO of NAVISTAR to discuss diesel prices, and pressed Federal Highway Administrator nominee Thomas J. Madison, Jr. to help adopt a highway and energy policy to lower gas and diesel prices.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today joined Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, to introduce legislation in response to the July 11, 2008, decision by the D.C. Circuit Court vacating the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). The Court’s ruling has far-reaching impacts on the ability of states to protect human health and the environment.
“I am proud to join Senator Voinovich to introduce legislation today that will help restore health benefits of the Clean Air Interstate Rule,” Senator Inhofe said. “We believe the Court’s recent decision could jeopardize the important emission reduction requirements of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide from the power sector that were scheduled to begin as soon as 2009, and now will at best be delayed if not even achieved at all. The CAIR Rule had direct and enormous measurable annual health and welfare benefits as calculated by the EPA, including 17,000 premature deaths avoided by 2015, 22,000 non-fatal heart attacks avoided, 27,000 hospital admissions/ER visits avoided, and 1.7 million work loss days avoided. In total, the benefits were estimated to be over 25 times greater than their costs by the EPA.
“Our legislation simply ensures that these full benefits are realized and that the air continues to get cleaner in the near term and for the future. It reestablishes a much-needed and critical floor for clean air reduction requirements that doesn’t hold any of the public health benefits hostage for political debate or until a future Congress can agree. There is simply no reason that the public health benefits provided by this rule, which was supported by industry, environmental groups, and a majority of states, should be held up by a court decision.”
About the Legislation:
The Clean Air Interstate Rule contains three regulatory programs intended to support the efforts of 28 eastern states and the District of Columbia to meet their obligations to attain the fine particle (PM2.5) and ozone air quality standards. It is the linchpin of EPA’s program to improve air quality and EPA’s most significant action to protect public health and the environment since the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. CAIR was EPA’s response to help states meet their responsibilities under the Act based on their successful experience addressing acid rain in the 1990s.
This legislation seeks to simply reinstate those public health benefits that have now been jeopardized through a full CAIR codification. According to the EPA’s September 5, 2008, Analysis of Potential Quick-Fix Legislative Changes to Address the Court Decision:
The enactment of this legislation would in no manner prohibit states from imposing stricter limits. It also does not prohibit Congress or the EPA from revisiting or increasing the reduction level requirements in future years, either by rule or statute. It simply ensures that these full benefits are realized and that the air continues to get cleaner, in the near term and for the future. It reestablishes a much needed and critical floor for clean air reduction requirements that doesn’t hold any of the public health benefits hostage for political debate or until a future Congress can agree.
For More Photos of the Hearing, Visit epw.senate.gov
U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, was pleased to welcome Elgin, Oklahoma Mayor Larry Thoma before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure yesterday morning. Senator Inhofe invited Mayor Thoma before the Committee to discuss the importance of the Economic Development Administration in Elgin. As the Chairman of EPW in 2004, Senator Inhofe authored legislation to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration. Earlier this year, Senator Inhofe introduced a bill to reauthorize EDA for another five years.
“I was pleased to welcome Mayor Thoma before the EPW Committee and discuss with him the tremendous success story of the Elgin Industrial Park,” Senator Inhofe said. “Just two weeks ago I joined Mayor Thoma in Elgin for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Elgin facility that would not have been possible without EDA investment. As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2004, I was proud to have authored legislation to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration, making $2,250,000 available for the development of the Industrial Park. Now, four years later, thanks to the work of local leaders like Mayor Thoma, we officially opened the Industrial Park that will support the development and final integration of the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, the Non-Line-of-Sight Mortar, and the Paladin Integrated Management program.The Army's next generation cannon, the NLOS-C, is now a reality, and Elgin boasts a one-of-a-kind facility for its integration. The Elgin facility will develop some of the most cutting-edge technology on the battlefield, and I was pleased to have Mayor Thoma before the Committee to share the story of this tremendous achievement.”
Mayor Thoma praised Senator Inhofe for his work on the Elgin facility, saying, “Senator Inhofe has long been a champion for economic development in Oklahoma. I know, and the people of southwest Oklahoma know, that the Elgin facility would not have happened without the leadership of Jim Inhofe. By working together, we were able to make this a true success story.”
Mayor Thoma, in his testimony before the Committee, told the story of the impact of the Elgin facility to his community: “With EDA’s assistance, this property will soon become one of the largest economic development projects in southwest Oklahoma. BAE Systems already occupies a recently constructed building in the park. Plans are being finalized for construction of a much larger facility that the company plans to start leasing in October 2009. The buildings and facilities are expected to cost in excess of $21 million, and BAE Systems plans to invest another $9 million in specialized equipment. Within the first 36 months of operation, the firm plans to employ at least 41 people with an estimated annual payroll of $1.7 million. They will continue to hire incrementally until they reach their production capacity with a total workforce between 150 and 200. These numbers may not raise eyebrows in large metropolitan areas, but for a rural community with 1,210 residents, this is a significant development and represents unprecedented economic growth.”
The Elgin facility is just one great example of the tremendous work done in partnership with EDA in Oklahoma. Senator Inhofe noted in his opening statement the statewide impact of EDA in Oklahoma: “Taken all together, EDA’s public works and economic adjustment grants awarded in my home state over the past five and a half years have resulted in almost 9,000 jobs being created or saved. With an investment of about $24.6 million, we have leveraged almost 29 million in State and local dollars and more than 433 million in private sector dollars. I would call that a wonderful success story.” The national picture is also quite impressive. Benjamin Erulkar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and EDA Chief Operating Officer, testified before the Committee and reported, “From fiscal year 2004 to date, EDA awarded over $1.29 billion in investments, of which $983 million was for construction investments that are expected to create 392,413 jobs at an average cost of $2,507 per job. On average, for this timeframe, every dollar in taxpayer money is expected to attract $33 in private capital investment.”
Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing today on the quality and environmental impacts of bottled water. I’m sure you would agree that Americans are privy to the best drinking water and bottled water available in the world. There is undoubtedly growing popularity of bottled water and consumers and the general public are justified to ask whether bottled water in America is safe and sustainable. I believe the answer to both of those questions is yes, as we will hear in testimony today.
Due to Senator Vitter’s absence, I would first like to mention how grateful we all are for the bottled water industry’s service to our country in recent catastrophes. The state of Louisiana I’m sure is grateful for the continued assistance. America’s recovery efforts would be severely hindered if it weren’t for their generosity.
Recently, certain Non-Governmental Organizations or NGOs have argued that bottled water poses health risks to humans and is extremely harmful to the environment, spurring some public concern and this hearing. These issues, however, are not new but have been studied for quite some time. Nevertheless, public concern should not be discounted.
The safety of bottled water is comprehensively regulated at the Federal, State, Local and Industry levels. In fact, both the Natural Resource Defense Counsel and the Center for Disease Control note that illness from bottled water has only been the result of rare and isolated incidents, which suggests that the current framework works and further regulation is unnecessary.
The bottled water industry in recognition of environmental concern and shifting consumer preferences have led industry efforts to significantly enhance their sustainability efforts to minimize environmental impact. The production of bottled water, however, does share many of the same environmental impacts as other consumer goods. How many of my colleagues have walked down the supermarket isles lately to find that many products are now packaged as a disposable good. Society has driven the market to produce more disposable goods, putting extreme pressures on municipal waste sites. It is important to note that the proliferation of bottled water and other consumer goods is a consequence of shifting consumer lifestyles. As a former mayor, I sympathize with the concerns of increased pressures on the holding capacity of our countries municipal waste facilities and we as a country need to become more conscious on what we buy and toss into our garbage can.
We will hear testimony today from Dr. Stephen Edberg, Professor Laboratory Medicine and Director of Microbiology at Yale University, whose extensive research is focused on bacteria that are found in the environment that may cause infection in human beings. He will explain to the Committee that concerns over the potential harm to human health are unwarranted and that U.S. bottled water is indeed safe for human consumption.
We will also hear testimony today from Joseph Doss, President and CEO of the International Bottled Water Association, here to discuss industry efforts to ensure consumers receive a safe and sustainable product. He will discuss how they have addressed contamination, mislabeling and waste stream concerns by going above and beyond the requirements imposed under current law through their Model Code, which applies to the overwhelming majority of bottled water sold in the United States.
I hope this hearing provides clarity to the status of bottled water, which is already comprehensively regulated at the Federal, State, Local and Industry levels in order to ensure its safety and sustainability.
Inhofe Opening Statement: Improving the Federal Bridge Program, Including an Assessment of S. 3338 and H.R. 3999
Thank you Madame Chairman. I want to welcome our distinguished witnesses. I enjoy working with my good friend Jim Oberstar, who is here with us today, and look forward to negotiating out the finer points of the next highway bill with him. When I was first elected to Congress back in 1987, Jim was my Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee on what was then the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, and as an aviator, I was a very active member of the subcommittee and got to know Jim pretty well. We may have even taken a few fact-finding trips together.
I also would like to welcome my colleague, Senator Coleman, who worked tirelessly to secure emergency funding for the collapsed I-35 bridge last year. I was honored to help him in his state’s time of need. He is also one of the primary requesters, along with the Chairman and myself, of a GAO study being released today on how to improve the Highway Bridge program.
Also, I want to extend a warm welcome to Gary Ridley, who I believe is the best highway director in the country. I have had many a phone call with Gary at odd hours of the day and night and I can confirm that he is always available and on top of things. In fact, he and I have been in close contact since it became clear that the Highway Trust Fund could go broke as early as this week. This morning, he is representing the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. His testimony on how a stand alone bridge bill will negatively influence my state’s capital bridge expenditures while ignoring the vast needs of the rest of highway system is consistent with comments I have received from other states.
Finally, welcome to our new FHWA Administrator, Thomas Madison. I regret that your first appearance before our Committee as Administrator has to be under crisis circumstances, but I understand that you are drinking as fast as you can from the fire hose and I am confident that together we will find a satisfactory solution to the HTF crisis.
I’m a little concerned this hearing is a repeat of a hearing we had September of last year. We have been having about one highway hearing a month as we gear up for reauthorization. This pace does not allow us the opportunity to retread the same territory. In fact, most of the organizations represented at the last bridge hearing are here again today. This hearing is designed to look at both the bridge program as a whole and Congressman Oberstar’s bridge bill, which passed the House and was introduced in the Senate by Senator Klobuchar. Since this is otherwise the same hearing we had last year, I will focus my comments on this proposed legislation.
I believe this is the wrong bill at the wrong time. It adds more red tape to a portion of the highway program that already has so many bureaucratic hurdles that states do not like to use this program to repair their bridges. In fact, some states transfer money from the bridge program to other more flexible programs in order to more effectively fix their bridges.
We are a year from the expiration of SAFETEA. Any major policy changes should be handled in the context of reauthorization. Otherwise they distract us from the overall goal of getting a comprehensive bill done on time. I agree the current bridge program needs revision, but this bill moves in exactly the wrong direction. It further handcuffs the states’ ability to address their greatest bridge priorities.
I’m concerned that in the wake of the Minnesota tragedy and a series of high profile news stories about the poor condition of the nation’s bridges, we are disproportionately focusing on a single aspect of the system. It is certainly true our bridges are in terrible disrepair. As I have noted before, my state of Oklahoma has the distinction of having the greatest number of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges in the country. I agree we must rework the bridge program, but we cannot let the needs of bridges overshadow the overwhelming needs of the rest of our highway system.
Let me emphasize once again that I agree the existing bridge program needs work to make it more useable for states, but with all due respect to my Minnesota colleagues, this bill does not do that and it should be done in the context of the larger reauthorization bill. It is, in my opinion, counterproductive to try and fix our crumbling infrastructure through piecemeal efforts. We need a comprehensive reform which should be done through a reauthorization bill next year.
In closing, I want to comment on the precarious situation we find ourselves in with respect to the solvency of the HTF. Chairman Boxer and I have been working for several months to get a fix to the Senate floor. Despite our best efforts, we have officially bumped up against a hard deadline because I understand that as early as this week the Secretary will begin not fully reimbursing states. On Monday, the Oklahoma Transportation Commissioners decided to delay $80 million of ready to go projects for at least a month with a possible additional $40 million if Congress does not act this week to shore up the shortfall. I suspect that other states have had to make that difficult decision too. Inaction not only means critical projects are not getting done, but construction workers are going to be laid off. We must act this week and I am working to convince my colleagues of the urgency of the situation and would encourage all those listening who understand the importance of a robust transportation infrastructure program to contact their Senators and urge them to support HR 6532, which will restore $8 billion taken from the HTF in 1998. This is not a long term fix but it will give us time to come up with a permanent funding fix.
Thank you, Senator Cardin, for chairing this hearing on a very important topic. I wish we had turned to this topic earlier in the year, because I am concerned that this late start means we may not have time to actually enact EDA reauthorization – such as my bill, S. 3264 – before the current authorization expires this month. Regardless of timing, though, I am glad we are having this hearing, and I am especially pleased to welcome Mayor Larry Thoma of Elgin, Oklahoma.
I was in Elgin last month for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new facility at the Elgin Industrial Park that would not have been possible without EDA investment. I will let Mayor Thoma talk about the details of EDA involvement and what it has meant to Elgin, but I consider this to be just one of the numerous examples of the good work EDA has accomplished working with communities struggling with economic distress to bring in private investment and jobs in my home state of Oklahoma, as well as all across the country.
I joined EDA in August in presenting a grant to the city of Woodward to help build the Woodward Community Campus. This project will lead to 192 jobs and $1.6 million in private investment. Another recent EDA grant will benefit the city of Watts, Oklahoma, and Adair County by supporting the construction of infrastructure improvements to accommodate the development of a new state-of-the-art plastic recycling and composite building material manufacturing facility.
Since the fall of 2004 when we last reauthorized the agency, EDA investments in Oklahoma include support for industrial park improvements in Ardmore and Hobart, intended to generate more than $6.6 million in private investment in Ardmore and help create 120 jobs in Hobart.
We saved and created new jobs in Clinton with water system improvements necessary to provide fire suppression protection for residents and current and prospective businesses. We paved the way for thousands of new jobs in Oklahoma City by helping provide the infrastructure necessary for a new Dell service center.
EDA assisted the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma fund construction of an assembly facility for a next generation tactical vehicle trailer for the U.S. Marine Corps in Durant, Oklahoma. Also in the Durant area, EDA funds were used to create additional space to manufacture and assemble goods in an expanded Foreign Trade Zone.
Additionally, many of the economic development districts in Oklahoma have received EDA grants to provide valuable planning and technical assistance to help communities build local capacity to focus on long-term economic and social challenges. These planning grants can be critical in particular to small, rural communities which often cannot otherwise afford to maintain this professional and technical capacity.
Taken all together, EDA’s public works and economic adjustment grants awarded in my home state over the past five and a half years have resulted in almost 9,000 jobs being created or saved. With an investment of about $24.6 million, we have leveraged almost 29 million in State and local dollars and more than 433 million in private sector dollars. I would call that a wonderful success story.
These numbers are backed up by studies that show that EDA uses federal dollars efficiently and effectively, creating and retaining long-term jobs at an average cost that is among the lowest in government. Today’s hearing gives us an opportunity to discuss possible tools to improve performance even further during the reauthorization process.
The EDA=s authorization is set to expire just three short weeks from today, on September 30, 2008. I am concerned that allowing this authorization to lapse will result in uncertainty for this very successful agency and the struggling communities that depend on its assistance. I recently spoke with Congressman Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; we both agreed that we need to work together to get this done before Congress recesses or adjourns this month, and we both believe that we can get it done if we work quickly and together. I look forward to working with my colleagues here on the Committee and in the House, as well as with the Administration and interested stakeholders, to reauthorize EDA as soon as possible.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, welcomed news today that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) docketed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) license application to build a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The NRC staff has determined that application contains sufficient information to begin the technical review; a long, exhaustive analysis of 10,000 pages reflecting work by some of the very best scientists and laboratories in the country.
“Today’s docketing decision by the NRC reflects DOE’s submission a high-quality application,” Senator Inhofe said. “This achievement was 25 years in the making and is a tribute to Ward Sproat’s leadership, and to the hard work and commitment of all those working on the repository program. I have supported this program for years and will continue to do so because I believe it is essential to the rebirth of nuclear energy and to the clean up of the nuclear wastes resulting from the Cold War.”
“The technical review should take three to four years, in accordance with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. However, Congressional attempts to limit funding for the NRC’s review could stretch the process out even longer. Regardless of anyone’s opposition to or support for the repository itself, all stakeholders are best served by a rigorous and timely review of the application. However, the NRC should not, and will not, compromise safety and security by rushing its decision-making process. Starving the NRC of the needed funding only serves the interests of those who profit from prolonged indecision.”
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