Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Ohio will be postponed.
AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order on the gentlewoman's amendment.
The Acting CHAIR. A point of order is reserved.
Pursuant to the order of the House of today, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Eshoo) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California.
Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, last Friday, the Department of Energy made a surprise announcement that not only was the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management--or EM--leaving but that they were restructuring the entire $6 billion program under the Under Secretary of Nuclear Security, who also serves as the head of the NNSA.
EM is responsible for cleaning up the nuclear waste created during our Nation's defense program that helped end World War II and the Cold War. The Federal Government has signed legal agreements with the States to clean up this waste. The major restructuring was simply declared by DOE with absolutely zero consultation with Congress, the States, the communities or the stakeholders.
I haven't been given sufficient answer to the simple question: How does EM benefit from this change?
We have no idea how this decision was reached or why restructuring was considered. Given what little has been made public, I believe there are some real risks, including the potential for cleanup to become less of a priority under as structure that has always been focused--and rightfully so--on nuclear security.
In the late 1980s, DOE moved the cleanup program out of the weapons program in order to provide more definition, transparency and to focus on cleanup. Now DOE wants to put them back together.
I ask again: What is the benefit to EM?
In DOE's own words from this past Friday: ``The Office of Environmental Management has made unparalleled progress in cleaning up our Nation's Cold War nuclear legacy at sites across the country.'' Yet, out of nowhere, they decide to throw the program into a state of flux.
Without sufficient answers, I can't stand idly by while the department makes a seemingly snap decision that will impact something as important and as complex as nuclear waste cleanup. So my amendment would prohibit the use of funds to move the Office of Environmental Management under the Under Secretary of Nuclear Security.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I would be happy to support your amendment. Of course, I will reserve judgment as to what Secretary Chu's plans are as they're somewhat on the drawing board; but we would agree with you that he needs to come to the Appropriations Committee and explain fully how he is going to have a better program for environmental management. It's too important to the Nation, not only to your State, but to other cleanup operations and sites around the Nation.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. I would make the point that this past Friday, the Department of Energy said that the Office of Environmental Management has made unparalleled progress in cleaning up our Nation's Cold War nuclear legacy at sites across the country, and then they announced restructuring. This subcommittee held a hearing on the issue of cleanup in April of 2006. We find ourselves here in 2011 still talking about it, let alone the cost.
I appreciate the gentleman's concern. My point would be I have some ambivalence, as I'd mentioned to the gentleman earlier, simply because I had a conversation with the Secretary relative to the change. My observation to the Secretary is I appreciate he knows he has a problem, and I also appreciate he has done something about the problem.
I certainly appreciate the attentiveness of the gentleman, of your involvement and your good work on this, and I certainly do not object to what you're trying to accomplish here, because I do think, the stronger the message, the more diligent the department will be on this matter. I thank the gentleman for raising the issue.