~Gary Petersen, TRIDEC VP Federal Programs
TRIDEC’s already outstanding Congressional success rate will increase further based on the great results from the FY-16 Omnibus, which was released December 2015.   This was not accomplished singularly by TRIDEC; many other organizations, Congressman Newhouse and Senators Murray and Cantwell supported these same requests.  Here are just a few of the economic impacts of TRIDEC’s requests for FY-16.
  • DOE-RL:  Received $922.6M, almost $79M over the Administration’s request.  $74M of this goes for River Corridor to support projects such as cleanup of the 324 building and 618-10 burial grounds, and $5M is an increase for community and regulatory support, which should also free up the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments to the community.  TRIDEC’s original request was for $119 million increase. DOE – RL received $79 million.
  • DOE-ORP:  Received $1.414 billion, the same as the Administration’s request.  This fully restores the cut in the House bill of $146M.  The Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) is fully funded at $690M, and $75M for LAWPS (low activity waste) is separate and does not come from WTP’s funding.  Tank farm operations under Washington River Protection Solutions are also fully funded at $649M. TRIDEC’S request was for the $1,414 billion.
In terms of other programs TRIDEC worked on that will impact the Tri-Cities community, the Omnibus Bill is good news.
  • PNNL:  Most of the DOE programs that support PNNL, such as DOE Science programs like Basic Energy Sciences and Biological and Environmental Research as well as NNSA nonproliferation, received funding at the Administration’s request level or with modest increases.  TRIDEC’s letter supported modest increases for PNNL programs, while affirming Stable funding for PPNL across the lab.
  • Small Modular Reactor Program:  Fully funded, and appropriations were added for advanced reactor R&D.  Several Tri-City engineering firms are working on SMRs or advanced reactor designs.
  • COOL:  One of the Omnibus Bill riders repeals the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements.  Repealing this bill should help avoid any retaliation by Canada or Mexico that would adversely impact local agri-business exports.  (This bill was of interest to ConAgra and other Ag businesses in our area). Once ConAgra notified TRIDEC of their concerns about “COOL” – TRIDEC supported repealing the bill and worked directly with Senator Murray’s staff to accomplish that action.
  • MOX:  Funded at $340M to continue construction at Savannah River. Hanford has already shipped its plutonium to Savannah River to be burned up in the new MOX facility once it is completed.   Without the MOX facility, there is a chance the plutonium could be returned to Hanford. TRIDEC requested the continued funding for MOX at Savannah River.
  • FAA Aviation Biofuels: $10.5 million, an increase of $2 million over the President’s request administered through WSU Tri-Cities. TRIDEC supported this funding and this program for the past three years. This program was initiated by Senator Cantwell.
  • TiLite: TiLite requested TRIDEC’s assistance with Senate Bill 2425. This bill helped make certain that seniors and people with disabilities have access to the wheelchairs and accessories they need and reduce the insurance restrictions that would have negatively impacted TiLite and its parent company.
In addition, Senator Cantwell managed to make PERMANENT the deductions for State Sales Tax, a huge win for the entire State.
This is an amazing list of accomplishments for our community. TRIDEC generously wants to thank our congressional champions, especially Patty Murray.  Dan Newhouse was helpful in getting some funds back for RL in the House and in working the House conferees (lead by Mike Simpson of Idaho) to move towards the Senate position.  However, Patty was once again “the closer” in terms in securing the great appropriations numbers for Hanford cleanup.