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Committee Leaders Release GAO Report Detailing Steps DOE Must Take to Address Environmental Liabilities

Oct 18, 2019
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Oversight and Investigations Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) issued the following statement today in response to the release of the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) framework for making risk-informed cleanup decisions:

“For years, this Committee has raised concerns about DOE’s management of sites across the country contaminated with hazardous and radioactive waste left over from the Cold War.  At the same time, for decades GAO and others have recommended that DOE adopt a risk-informed approach to decision-making and develop national priorities.

“Today’s report underscores that DOE must continue to take action to incorporate risk-informed decision-making in order to improve its cleanup program and properly prioritize spending.  With cleanup costs far outpacing DOE’s spending, hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars are at risk – as is the health and environment of the communities that surround these sites.  The consequences for not getting this right are enormous, and we encourage DOE to implement GAO’s recommendations.”

The Committee leaders requested today’s report with their Republican counterparts in 2017, asking the agency to review DOE’s environmental cleanup decision-making and propose recommendations.

According to DOE’s fiscal year 2018 financial statement, DOE had an estimated environmental liability of $494 billion – representing more than 80 percent of the federal government’s total environmental liability, and an increase of $100 billion since 2017. The Committee held an oversight hearing on the matter in May.