Some INL funding boosts in energy budget bill


The U.S. House Appropriations Committee advanced an energy funding bill Wednesday that includes hundreds of millions for Idaho National Laboratory and for waste cleanup in eastern Idaho.

The $44.7 billion 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill funds the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and related agencies such as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration. It passed committee 29-20 and now awaits a full House vote. The total bill is a $1.5 billion increase over this year and $8.17 billion increase over President Donald Trump’s budget request.

“The FY19 Energy and Water bill recognizes the leading national role that the Idaho National Laboratory plays in enhancing our national security and increasing American competitiveness,” U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, the chairman of the subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, said in a statement. “I’m proud to support their groundbreaking research in advanced reactor and fuel development, battery and bioenergy programs, and protecting the electric grid from cyber-attacks, and I am pleased this bill fulfills their needs to continue this critical work.”

INL-related funding increases within the budget include a $13 million boost, to $146 million, for the Idaho Facilities Management account, which pays for infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL; a $5.3 million increase, to $164.3 million, for the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program; and a $13 million increase, to $146 million, for INL’s Safeguards and Security Program. The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which is managed by INL, is funded at $50 million, the same as this year.

The bill includes $370 million for the Reactor Concepts, Research, Development and Demonstration account, a $133 million increase. This account includes $100 million for small modular reactor development. Currently INL, NuScale Power and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems are working on a plan to build small modular reactors at the INL site west of Idaho Falls.

The budget also includes $420 million for waste cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project; $85.5 million for INL’s Advanced Test Reactor; and $128.5 million for the Advanced Fuels program.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.