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Energy and Ag bills work thru House committees

A number of critical Idaho National Laboratory projects will be protected under the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, according to Second District Congressman Mike Simpson.

The bill passed the full House Appropriations Committee this week. Overall, it provides $44.7 billion for the Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Bonneville Power and a number of independent agencies.

The measure provides $420 million for cleanup activities at the Idaho Cleanup Project and Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project. It has an additional $5 million for the National Spent Fuel Program, aimed at finding solutions for managing the Department of Energy’s inventories of spent nuclear fuel.

$1.2 billion is set aside for Energy and Water Development Appropriations. Some of the nuclear energy research and development projects in that budget include:

$322 million for Idaho Facilities Management $146 million for INL Safeguards and Security $164.3 million for nuclear energy enabling technologies $50 million for light water reactor sustainability $370 million for reactor concepts research, development, and demonstration $128.5 million for advanced fuels, fuel cycle research $62.5 million for nuclear fuel disposition

There are other Idaho-related projects included within the Energy and Water division:

$85.5 million for the Advanced Test Reactor $25 million for energy efficient mobility systems $27 million for bioenergy $9 million for integrated energy systems.

And, Simpson said the bill includes significant investment in INL led cybersecurity grid protection work and a provision to allow recharge of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer during high flow events and flood releases from Palisades Reservoir.

“This is a well-balanced bill that places emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation’s infrastructure,” Chairman Simpson said. “It prioritizes the maintenance and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also supporting infrastructure projects and strategic research and development that will increase U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.”

The Agriculture Appropriations bill also includes Idaho priorities, including potato and wheat research funding, support for pest eradication, and rollback of a rule which created a barrier for potatoes being served in the school breakfast program.

“Potatoes are an important source of potassium and fiber, which are two nutrients identified as deficient in all U.S. populations by both the 2015 Dietary Guidelines and USDA,” said Simpson. “I’m pleased the Committee adopted my bipartisan amendment to treat potatoes like other vegetables of need in the school breakfast program. This is important to Idaho and students who need healthy options. The House Appropriations Committee has sent a strong message that rural America matters and this bill delivers for farmers and ranchers.”

Similar to previous years, Simpson authored language in the Agriculture Appropriations bill that blocks the proposed closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho.

Both bills are expected to come up for full House consideration in coming weeks.

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