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E&C Leaders Request GAO Examine Issues at DOE Affecting Progress on Reducing Environmental Liabilities

Dec 2, 2021
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Full Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Energy Subcommittee Ranking Member Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Morgan Griffith (R-VA) wrote to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today requesting an examination of management challenges and other issues at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) that have affected EM’s ability to reduce its environmental liabilities. EM is responsible for the environmental cleanup of sites across the country affected by decades of nuclear energy research and nuclear weapons production.  

“In an effort to assist us with our oversight of EM’s cleanup efforts, the Committee would like GAO to examine the major management challenges at EM that affect its ability to reduce its environmental liabilities and make progress on longstanding high-risk areas,” the six bipartisan Committee leaders wrote to GAO Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro. “The Committee also requests GAO to undertake a series of reviews focused on areas critical to EM’s mission, including DOE program management, minimum safety requirement costs, soil and ground remediation, and coordination with stakeholders.”

GAO first added the U.S. federal government’s management of environmental liabilities to its High Risk List in 2017, which identifies federal programs and operations that are considered ‘high risk’ due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or that otherwise need transformation. Federal environmental liabilities remain on the list today, and DOE is responsible for $512 billion, or about 85 percent, of those liabilities. Despite being on its High Risk list, GAO has determined that EM has not demonstrated progress in addressing its environmental liabilities. In a June letter to Chairman Pallone, GAO also found that although EM’s environmental liability continues to grow, opportunities may exist to reduce future costs.

The full letter to GAO is available HERE.