Idaho State Journal
Idaho State Journal

Feds OK INEEL funding
Argonne to cash in on appropriations too

Anne Minard
Journal Writer
POCATELLO - Site officials are celebrating the promise of a good year for the Department of Energy in Idaho.
Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, on Wednesday announced approval of annual funding for water projects in Idaho and projects at the Idaho National Energy and Environmental Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory-West with passage of the annual Energy and Water Appropria-tions conference report by the full Senate earlier this week. The bill passed with a vote of 57-37.
"I believe the funds for a long-term environmental stewardship program and the design of a subsurface science facility represent the cornerstone of the future of the INEEL as our nation's premier environmental laboratory," Crapo said.
Susan Stiger is general manager for environmental management programs at the site.
"I think the key thing is that overall, the bill looks to be a positive thing for the INEEL," she said. "I can certainly say that several of them I'm very familiar with. Those are all pretty important programs for the INEEL."
Officials say a key provision inserted in the Energy and Water bill by Craig fully restores discretionary research authority to the INEEL. Known as Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD), this authority allows laboratory directors to pursue new areas of research. Officials say LDRD is key to attracting the best and the brightest researchers to department laboratories.
"It's been good having that position on the appropriations committee," said Will Hart, Craig's press secretary in Washington, D.C. "I think it was a good year in the sense that we got restored funding for LDRD, which last year we had some problems with."
Stiger said the DOE has always requested full funding for its commitments to remove waste out of Idaho according to deadlines set in a settlement agreement with the state. The language of this year's appropriations bill slating full federal funding for those compliance efforts is typical, she said.
"What we actually receive for funding may or may not be different from that," she said. "We have always met the settlement requirements with the funding we've received. It takes a while to sort through all the provisions. It will be several weeks before we here at Idaho will know how much funding we will get.
The conference report will next go to the president for his approval.

Anne Minard covers science and the environment for the Journal. She can be reached at 239-3168 or by e-mail at aminard@journalnet.com.