OPENING STATEMENT FOR THE HONORABLE
JERRY F. COSTELLO
HEARING ON REORGANIZING DOE
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT SUBCOMMITTEE, COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
ENERGY AND POWER SUBCOMMITTEE, COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE
Tuesday, July 13, 1999 10:00 AM, 2123 RHOB
While this Committee and others in Congress have had a multitude of hearings on the security problems at the DOE labs, I believe this may actually be the FIRST hearing to address consequences to the scientific missions of the Department that could arise as a result of the Senate reorganization proposals. I believe that as Congress moves towards ANY reorganization proposal, we need to address three important considerations.
First, we need to fix a security problem with a security solution. The Senate proposal to put the same individual in charge of both security AND nuclear weapons development is reminiscent of the way things were before President Bush’s Energy Secretary, Admiral Watkins, put his own "Security Czar" in place to separate authority for security from that of weapons research and development. I look forward to hearing from General McFadden, who was appointed to that position.
Second, we need to ensure that environmental health and safety are protected. The Senate proposal places the responsibility for environmental health and safety under the same roof as nuclear materials production ‑ much like the Atomic Energy Commission of old. When we were still conducting above‑ground nuclear explosions in Nevada, Congress held a series of hearings on the possible adverse health effects of those tests. The Atomic Energy Commission, anxious to continue their testing unimpeded, testified that there were no adverse health consequences of repeatedly releasing more radiation than was released in the Chernobyl accident ‑ false statements that may have led to an increase in thyroid and other cancers for thousands of Americans.
Finally, I have concerns about the impact the Senate proposal could have on science. The weapons labs each currently do almost $100 million worth of non‑weapons R&D each year. We must be able to continue to attract top‑notch scientists to these labs.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and am anxious to hear their thoughts on ways to reform DOE in a constructive way WITHOUT any unintended consequences.