Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:00 AM

Senator Pete V. Domenici


Environmental Management
at the
Department of Energy

November 15, 2005

This hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the Office of Environmental Management at the Department of Energy shall come to order.

The purpose of this hearing is to evaluate progress in the Environmental Management (EM) Program of the Department of Energy (DOE) and to learn about the recent success story at the former DOE weapons facility at Rocky Flats in Colorado.

The EM program inherited the responsibility for the cleanup of 114 sites involved with past nuclear weapons activities.   Those sites cover a vast area, over 2 million acres B  the equivalent land area of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
 This program is the largest single function within the Department, the Congress has funded this program at $6.66 billion in FY 06, $116 million more than the Administration’s budget proposal.  This represents nearly one-third of the Departments total budget. 
 In addition to a progress report on the overall EM programs, I look forward to learning from our witnesses today about the success at Rocky Flats and the issues associated with cost overruns and project delays at the Hanford Site and other current issues. 

Specifically on Rocky Flats, I am hopeful that this monumental achievement is not discounted as a one-time miracle.  The Department faces numerous challenges in the management of operations and the cleanup of liabilities from legacy sites.  It would be an unacceptable outcome if we did not apply the successful lessons learned during the clean-up at Rocky Flats.
I understand the desire to impose greater rigor in the management of the Department's projects.  When you look at the Waste Treatment Plant and the Yucca Mountain Project, clearly there is a need to impose fundamental principles of project management.  However, I want to caution the Department not to forget the wonderful result from daring to accelerate and overachieve.  We have the perfect example of these lofty goals before us today. 
I would ask the Department not to learn the wrong lesson from its present challenges.  The American public does not want you to default to decade’s long schedules and unfathomable budgets.  We want you to look for constant improvement and acceleration. 
 I hope that our witnesses today can tell us some good news and address these complex issues so that we can all better understand the status of clean-up of our facilities from the Cold War.
 Testifying today are:
 My friend and colleague, Senator Wayne Allard from the great State of Colorado.

The Honorable Jim Rispoli, Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management of the Department of Energy.

And finally, Nancy Tour, President and CEO of Kaiser-Hill Company in Colorado.  Welcome.