This issue brief focuses on the opportunities for state engagement at each stage of the budget process and suggests how states can ensure that site budgets incorporate state input and priorities.
Sufficient federal funding to clean up the U.S. nuclear weapons complex is a priority for states that host or are affected by the 17 sites still engaged in active cleanup of the environmental legacy of Cold War–era nuclear weapons production. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which funds and oversees the cleanup through its Office of Environmental Management (EM), estimates that between $7 billion and $8 billion in annual funding is needed to meet agreed-on and enforceable cleanup milestones over the next 15 years. However, DOE anticipates a flat-line cleanup budget of around $5.7 billion per year (plus inflation adjustments) for the foreseeable future. Given such a constrained budget environment, states should set and clearly communicate cleanup priorities as a way of making sure funds go where they are needed most, in addition to advocating for sufficient funds to meet commitments.
The EM budget must progress through DOE, other executive branch agencies, and Congress; those entities decide which cleanup activities to fund at a given site. Thus, states affected by the EM cleanup mission have multiple opportunities to provide input regarding state compliance obligations and cleanup priorities. This issue brief focuses on the opportunities for state engagement at each stage of the budget process and suggests how states can ensure that site budgets incorporate state input and priorities. The information in this issue brief was gathered through a series of conference calls and meetings between members of the National Governors Association Federal Facilities Task Force and the Environmental Council of the States Federal Facilities Forum—with representatives from the Office of Management and Budget, DOE EM, DOE Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations—respectively.