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FY 2006 Appropriations Hearing
Testimony of Secretary Samuel W. Bodman

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Energy's budget request for FY 2006.

Before I begin, I would like to congratulate the Subcommittee on its expanded jurisdictional responsibility that includes the three DOE programs (fossil energy, energy efficiency, and energy information) that were previously under the jurisdiction of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. With this Subcommittee now having full oversight of all the Department's programmatic activities, I look forward to working with all of you in helping DOE achieve its mission of national energy security.

In the February 2nd State of the Union Address, the President underscored the need to restrain spending in order to sustain our economic prosperity. Of the more than 150 reductions, reforms, and terminations in non-defense discretionary programs in the President's FY 2006 budget, six are DOE programs. These include termination of Nuclear Energy Plant Optimization, Nuclear Energy Research Initiative, Hydropower and Oil and Gas research and development programs; reduced funding for Environmental Management; and reform of the Power Marketing Administrations' electricity rates. 

At $23.4 billion, the Department's FY 2006 budget is $475 million below the

FY 2005 appropriation, contributing to the President's deficit reduction goal. Overall, this is a 2 percent reduction from FY 2005.

A major portion of the DOE budget funds our mission of ensuring a safe, secure, reliable and effective nuclear deterrent for our nation's defense. For the past eight years, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy have reported to the President that the nuclear weapons stockpile remains safe, secure and reliable. I will join the Secretary of Defense soon in my first assessment of the state of our nuclear weapons stockpile. 

This assessment of the stockpile is based not on nuclear tests, but on cutting-edge scientific and engineering tools, extensive laboratory tests, field-testing of non-nuclear components, and sound technical judgments. Each year, we are gaining a more complete understanding of the complex physical processes underlying the performance of our aging nuclear stockpile. This understanding gives us an increased confidence in our ability to accurately assess the reliability and effectiveness of the weapons in our stockpile in the absence of underground testing.

A robust defense research-and-development and industrial base -- which includes a responsive nuclear weapons infrastructure -- is critically important to achieving our defense goals. The elements of a responsive infrastructure include the people, the science and technology base, and the facilities and equipment to support a right-sized and secure nuclear weapons enterprise. It also involves a transformation in engineering and production practices that will enable us to respond more rapidly and flexibly to emerging needs. 

The changing nature of threats against our nation, coupled with the President's commitment to reduce the size of our post-Cold War nuclear stockpile -- as you, Mr. Chairman, noted in a speech this past August -- are guiding our efforts to reconfigure our nuclear weapons complex and supporting infrastructure. As you know, we are working to upgrade key facilities and restore critical capabilities that had been allowed to deteriorate in the years following the Cold War. These activities -- along with the dismantling of weapons and other processes needed to reduce the nuclear stockpile -- continue to require substantial commitments of resources.

In addition to our nuclear defense responsibilities, the Department is focused on helping to ensure safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible supplies of energy for  America's growing economy. That effort includes working to keep nuclear power as a viable part of our nation's fuel mix. We are pursuing the development of advanced nuclear technologies to take us to the next level in terms of efficiency, reliability, and security. 

The long-term viability of nuclear power requires environmentally sound management of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel generated from nuclear power plants. Therefore, the Department in the last two years has transformed the focus of our Civilian Radioactive Waste Management Program from scientific research to construction of a permanent nuclear waste repository. 

In addition to nuclear research, we are focusing resources on the development of other new technologies to meet future energy and environmental challenges. These are investments in transformative technologies that will change the way we use and produce energy. We are pursuing a path toward a "hydrogen economy" - with affordable zero-emissions fuel cell vehicles, abundant sources of production, and the safe storage and transportation of hydrogen fuel. 

The Department is developing carbon sequestration which, when used in conjunction with advanced power production technologies, could help reduce the environmental impact of coal-fired power generation. 

We also are contributing to the effort known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), to pursue the promise of clean, safe, renewable, and commercially available energy from nuclear fusion by the middle of this century.

In addition, the strong investment the Department continues to make to advance cutting-edge science in our network of National Laboratories and other world-class science facilities enables us to keep the United States at the forefront of scientific research, ensure the continued integrity of our nuclear deterrent, and explore the possibilities of fusion, hydrogen and other new technologies to add strong options to the nation's energy portfolio.

Prompted by members of this Subcommittee, we have begun moving forward with longer-term budgetary processes across the Department of Energy, in the form of five-year planning. I believe this is most certainly a move in the right direction, and we are grateful for your guidance. Some parts of our agency are currently better at this process than others, and I want the Subcommittee to know that I will not be satisfied until we have perfected it everywhere, to help guarantee that this Department is making the best and most efficient use of the taxpayers' money.  

Mr. Chairman, I look forward to working with you and the members of this Subcommittee as we pursue our mission of providing for national and energy security, and I would be pleased to answer any questions.

Location: Washington, D.C.