Nineteenth Annual Intergovernmental Meeting with the U.S. Department of Energy on Nuclear Weapons Waste Cleanup

Virtual Meeting | November 17-18, 2020

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) hosted the 19th Annual Intergovernmental Meeting with the U.S. Department of Energy on Nuclear Waste Cleanup. This meeting brought together the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of Environmental Management and six intergovernmental groups involved in cleanup of defense related nuclear waste, to discuss priorities and strategies for managing and storing defense nuclear waste and for remediation of production sites. Topics discussed included updates from senior leadership on DOE and Office of Environmental Management activities; COVID-19 experiences, impacts to operations, and how cleanup will progress moving forward; an overview of waste management from DOE-EM including waste oversight, cleanup responsibilities, and management and disposal updates; opportunities to improve risk communications; a case study on adjustments to cleanup plans in Idaho and how the impacted parties engaged with one another; the economic impact of cleanup and workforce development challenges; and recording, sharing and applying best practices and lessons learned from across the DOE-EM complex. Participants also had the opportunity to dialogue with each other at nine site-specific breakout sessions, focusing on cleanup priorities, budgets, and strategic planning with site-level priorities.

NGA leads the Federal Facilities Task Force, a group of governor’s appointees from a dozen states tasked with collaborating, regulating, and working with DOE to ensure that DOE is accounting for state perspectives in its defense nuclear waste cleanup activities. NGA also convenes the planning committee with state, local, and tribal leaders, known as the Combined Intergovernmental Working Group (CIWG). The CIWG includes: 

  • Energy Communities Alliance (ECA) 
  • Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) 
  • National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) 
  • National Conference of State Legislatures Nuclear Legislative Working Group (NCSL NLWG)  
  • National Governors Association Federal Facilities Task Force (NGA FFTF) 
  • State and Tribal Government Working Group (STGWG) 
  • U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (DOE EM) 

Meeting Materials


(All times in Eastern Standard Time)

Tuesday, November 17th

Plenary Sessions: Intergovernmental Groups and DOE Officials

Welcome (11:45 am – 12:00 pm)

Representatives for the intergovernmental groups and U.S. Department of Energy welcomed participants to the meeting.


  • Dan Lauf, Energy Program Director, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center)
  • Mark Gilbertson, Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Regulatory and Policy Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM)

Department of Energy Opening Remarks (12:00 – 12:25 pm)

Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar provided opening remarks, including a broader overview of Office of Science activities including DOE-EM, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Legacy Management (DOE-LM) and long-term stewardship activities.

Speaker: Paul Dabbar, Under Secretary for Science, U.S. Department of Energy

Moderator: Mark Gilbertson, Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Regulatory and Policy Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM)

Sharing COVID-19 Experiences, Ongoing Impacts and Moving Forward (12:30 – 1:45 pm)

Speakers reflectED on the past, present and future impacts of COVID-19 on work across the DOE complex. Topics addressed include adjustments to cleanup implementation, changes to how work gets done, and lessons learned with regards to communication. Speakers also discussed how they were able to make progress during this time, share challenges and successes, and consider how work will be impacted going forward.


  • Todd Shrader, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, DOE-EM
  • Russell McCallister, Director, Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project, DOE-EM
  • Brian Vance, Manager, DOE Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office
  • Jim Kenney, Secretary, New Mexico Environment Department
  • Mark Watson, City Manager, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • Clarice Madalena, Natural Resources Program Manager, Pueblo of Jemez

Moderator: Carolyn Hanson, Deputy Director, Environmental Council of the States

Waste Management Across the DOE Complex (2:15 – 2:40 pm) | Presentation

DOE-EM leadership provided an overview of waste management including history and waste definition, oversight, generator responsibilities and receiving site responsibilities. DOE-EM also provided an update on the high-level radioactive waste interpretation and status of transuranic waste disposal at DOE-EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to date.

Speaker: Mark Senderling, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Waste and Materials Management, DOE-EM

Moderator: Greg Lovato, Administrator, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection

Opportunities to Improve Risk Communications (2:45 – 3:45 pm)

DOE-EM, State, Tribal and local governments can have different perceptions of successful cleanup based on risk, priorities, reuse and other factors. This panel considered how multiple, and sometimes differing, viewpoints have been successfully addressed in the past through clear communication of risks. Throughout the discussion panelists addressed what has worked, pitfalls to avoid, and potential opportunities for more effective collaboration on a variety of risk topics.


  • Amy S. Fitzgerald, Ph.D., Government Affairs and Information Services Director, City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • Peter Chestnut, Attorney, Pueblo de San Ildefonso
  • Fran Marshall, Director of Applied Science and Community Engagement, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Moderator: David Abelson, Managing Director, Abelson Partners, LLC

Wednesday, November 18th

Day 2 Welcome (11:45 – 11:50 am)

Speaker: Bevin Buchheister, Senior Policy Analyst, National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices

Environmental Management Program Update (11:50 am- 12:10 pm)

Following the release of the DOE-EM 2020-2030 Vision, 2020 has proved to be a momentous year, with significant cleanup progress achieved across the complex despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In this session William “Ike” White shared an update on the Environmental Management program and how DOE-EM has worked to maintain cleanup momentum throughout the year. He also addressed the implementation of the DOE-EM 2020-2030 Vision and incorporation of intergovernmental groups’ input going forward, among other key issues.

Speaker: William “Ike” White, Senior Advisor for Environmental Management to the Under Secretary of Science, U.S. Department of Energy

Moderator: Debbie Duren, Program Manager, Natural Resources Trustee, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation

When Cleanup Plans Change: An Idaho Case Study (12:15 – 1:10 pm) | Presentation

Across the complex, assumptions, expectations, and requirements for cleanup activities can be impacted by many factors such as changes in conditions or priorities over time, leadership, appropriations, shifting deadlines, unplanned closures like at WIPP or newly discovered contamination.  This session focused on how cleanup plans in Idaho have been adjusted over time, why changes were needed, and how impacted parties were engaged.  Panelists also addressed the key challenges and lessons learned from their perspectives as DOE-EM, state government, Tribal and local government representatives.


  • Darrell Early, Deputy Attorney General and Chief, Natural Resources Division, Office of the Idaho Attorney General
  • Mark Clough, Idaho National Laboratory Settlement Agreement Coordinator, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
  • Talia Martin, Director of Tribal/DOE- Accident Investigation and Prevention, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Tribal Department of Energy
  • Connie Flohr, Manager, Idaho Cleanup Project, DOE-EM

Moderator: The Honorable Rebecca Casper, Mayor, City of Idaho Falls, Idaho

Introduction of Breakout Sessions (1:10 – 1:20 pm)

NGA framed the general objectives and logistics for the breakout session portion of the meeting, and DOE-EM provided introductory remarks leading into the site-specific breakouts.


  • Bevin Buchheister, Senior Policy Analyst, National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices
  • Nicole Nelson-Jean, Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Field Operations, DOE-EM

Breakout Sessions – Site Level Priorities and Budget Planning (1:20 – 2:15 pm)

Members of the intergovernmental groups joined DOE-EM site representatives and staff from DOE headquarters for in-depth, site-specific discussions with their peers on budget and cleanup priorities.

Topics included:

  • Top cleanup priorities for FY 2022
  • Factors important to prioritizing cleanup like cultural, social, economic, technological, legal factors and environmental justice issues
  • How priorities should adjust if the cleanup budget is reduced
  • How to build tribal, regulator, local government and stakeholder support for, and understanding of, site cleanup priorities
  • Additional elements or details that can be added to the DOE-EM Strategic Vision document that could build partner support and improve the understanding and alignment of priorities

Moderators: Staff of the Intergovernmental Groups

Economic Impact and Workforce Development (2:45 – 3:40 pm)

The success of the DOE-EM cleanup mission relies on a strong workforce and has broad impacts on the economic development of host communities, tribes and states. There is a growing interest in how DOE-EM will address the impact of an aging workforce, while also attracting and maintaining a new generation of employees to continue the cleanup mission. Additionally, the economic impacts of DOE-EM’s cleanup-related activities provide a range of benefits each year—from jobs to value in the state’s economy. This session explored the current workforce challenges and opportunities across the complex, discuss how DOE-EM contributes to local and state economies, and how federal, state, local, and tribal officials can work collectively to meet common workforce and economic development goals.


  • David Reeploeg, Vice President for Federal Programs, Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC)
  • Mindy Mets, Regional Workforce Director, Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization (SRSCRO)
  • Governor Perry Martinez, Pueblo de San Ildefonso

Moderator: Senator Sharon Brown, Washington State Senator, 8th Legislative District

Recording, Sharing and Applying Best Practices and Lessons Learned (3:45 – 4:15 pm)

Across the DOE-EM complex, cleanup decision-making and approaches can be informed by past work. Recording, accessing and applying best practices and lessons learned can result in cost savings and efficiency. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Todd Shrader discussed the DOE-EM strategy to ensure best practices and lessons learned are documented and accessible and how they are applied over a wide variety of projects. This session concluded with a moderated Q&A session followed by a brief summary and discussion of the examples shared throughout this meeting.

Speaker: Todd Shrader, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, DOE-EM

Moderator: Brian Begley, Registered Geologist Supervisor, Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet

Wrap-up and Adjourn (4:15 – 4:30 pm)

DOE-EM and NGA Center provided closing comments and concluded the meeting with a brief discussion of areas for collaboration between the intergovernmental groups and DOE-EM throughout the coming year.


  • Bevin Buchheister, Senior Policy Analyst, National Governors Association
  • Tom Mooney, Chief of Staff and Chief Operations Officer, DOE-EM