Murray Pushes Obama Administration Official on Nearly $100M in Hanford Cuts

<p>Senator Patty Murray (D) Washington</p>

Senator Patty Murray (D) Washington

(Washington, D.C.)— Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, held a hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal with Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell. At the hearing, Sen. Murray asked Director Burwell whether the nearly $100 million in cuts to cleanup work at Hanford included in the President’s budget will allow the federal government to meet its legal obligations. Sen. Murray also stressed the need for a long-term comprehensive plan for Hanford cleanup and other defense environmental cleanup sites throughout the country.

“I have been very clear in my conversations with you and the Department of Energy that I expect the federal government to meet its milestones at defense environmental cleanup sites,” Senator Murray said at the hearing. “This is of great importance to me, as well as other Senators who sit on this Committee. Within your FY15 budget request you cut environmental management by $135 million, with Hanford Richland Operations getting about $100 million of the cuts. What is the Administration’s plan to keep the legal commitments that have been made to communities like the Tri-Cities in my home state?

 

Director Burwell told Sen. Murray that the legal commitments to Hanford are something the Administration takes very seriously, and they remain committed to making progress in Hanford cleanup.

Full text of the exchange below:

Sen. Murray: I have been very clear in my conversations with you and the Department of Energy that I expect the federal government to meet its milestones at defense environmental cleanup sites. This is of great importance to me, as well as other Senators who sit on this Committee. Within your FY15 budget request you cut environmental management by $135 million, with Hanford operations getting about $100 million of the cuts. I’d like you to explain that justification and with that reduction what is the Administration’s plan to keep the legal commitments that have been made to communities like the Tri-Cities in my home state?

Director Burwell: Senator, the legal commitments are something that are very important and the Administration takes very seriously and has put forward a budget that we believe enables us to do that. With regard to the cuts that are occurring—a number of those programs are for pieces of work that have been completed. Having said that, the Administration is committed to making the progress we need in Hanford and the other areas that are funded there to do the cleanup we need to do and work on that. That’s a commitment the Administration has made and we will continue to work towards.

Murray: We have really serious challenges in making progress at these nuclear cleanup sites across the country, we need a long-term sustainable plan. I’d like you and the DOE to work with me to develop a long-term comprehensive plan to make sure that we are meeting the needs of these incredibly important sites.

Burwell: Senator, I look forward to doing that.

Click here to watch video of the exchange.