February 03, 2005

U.S. Senate Clarifies Bill Does Not Jeopardize Batt Agreement

Votes to add Crapo-Craig language; seeks NAS review of cleanup plans

Washington, DC - An amendment approved today by the U.S. Senate clarifies that language included in the Department of Defense Authorization Bill to allow South Carolina to clean up itshigh-level waste will have no impact on the court-backed nuclear waste cleanup agreementbetween the State of Idaho and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Idaho Senators MikeCrapo and Larry Craig also included statutory language to make clear that the South Carolinalanguage has no precedent and is not binding on Idaho or any other state. Earlier duringconsideration of the Defense bill, Crapo and Craig were successful in passing a relatedamendment that ensures Idaho has access to more than $90 million for cleanup activities. Todayâ??s amendment came as Crapo and Craig supported efforts by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to finish work on a cleanup arrangement for his state. Some had feared theSouth Carolina agreement could set a precedent for Idahoâ??s cleanup so Idahoâ??s senators proddedthe Senate to approve the Graham-Crapo amendment.â??This is a clear victory for Idaho,â?? Crapo said. â??No one can now legitimately claim that SouthCarolinaâ??s fix can or will impact the Batt Agreement. This amendment makes it very clear thatthere is no precedent set by the South Carolina language that will in any way impact or amendany agreement that the State of Idaho or the State of Washington have with the Department ofEnergy or create any precedent for any negotiations now underway between those two states,â??Crapo said. â??The South Carolina Agreement stands by itself.â??â??The language that the Senate passed two weeks ago regarding the South Carolina cleanup did not affect Idaho, but now we have made it that much more visible and obvious by stating that flatout,â?? Craig said. â??It isnâ??t possible within the confines of the English language to put this anymore clearly than we have. If people are still claiming doubt and confusion about Idahoâ??s tanksbeing implicated here, at this point, I donâ??t know what would satisfy them.â??Amendment 3428, pertaining to the South Carolina cleanup plan, states: Nothing in this section shall affect, alter, or modify the full implementation ofâ?¦the Batt Agreement or the Tri-PartyAgreement. Furthermore, that nothing in the bill has a precedent or is binding on Idaho,Washington, Oregon, or any other state. The amendment was modified to include language authorizing a National Academy of Sciencesreview of cleanup activities in South Carolina, Washington, and Idaho. Senator Maria Cantwell(D-Washington) worked with Crapo and Craig to include the language. Cantwell had previouslyblocked attempts to introduce the clarifying language, but removed her objections to theamendment introduction and passage this afternoon. Work continues on the overall Defense spending bill. The South Carolina agreement was included for debate because defense nuclear waste was at issue in the cleanup agreements. # # #