By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
Congressional aides say Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is committed to seeing passage of a spending bill that includes some $150 million, the first year’s cost of the Research Development and Demonstration project related to USEC, Inc.’s proposed American Centrifuge Project at Piketon. The two-year plan would cost $300 million, and would be a partnership between the Department of Energy and USEC.
“The only glitch with that is that it has to go through the Congressional appropriations process,” the source told the Portsmouth Daily Times. “The administration did their part in proposing it. Now the heavy lifting falls to appropriators and House and Senate leadership.”
Brown, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said he is working with members of the Senate to attempt to help the appropriations bill to be passed. Those members include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Daniel Inouye, and Sen. Lamar Alexander.
‘It’s not our first choice,” the aide told the Times. “The first choice would be for the Department (of Energy) to grant the loan guarantee. But this is a good interim step toward that ultimate goal. I think the administration is very solid on this. And Sen. Brown has been working on nearly everybody in a senior position in the Obama administration.”
“He has reached out to the chairman of the Energy and Water subcommittee (Feinstein), and has had conversations with her and also with Senator (Harry) Reid (Senate Majority Leader),” The aide told us. “We feel pretty confident with what the Senate negotiators will be going to the table with has the resources for the ACP RD&D.”
The spokesperson said Brown is confident Senate leadership will be fighting for ACP.
“There could be, as early as today (Thursday) some agreement on the omnibus,” the source told the Times. “The committee is meeting, as we speak, this morning. And this is a conference on all the appropriation bills that remain to be enacted.”
The amount of bills yet to be enacted was thought to be nine, and possibly the military construction bill would become the vehicle for tacking on other appropriations in the Energy and Water subcommittee.
USEC has waited for three years for a $2 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department Of Energy to complete the ACP, but the DOE has asked for several things to be done including more demonstrations of centrifuges and financial reinforcement, both of which USEC complied with.
In 2009, the Obama administration kept hopes alive while other things were being done to enhance the application, by providing $45 million in research and development.
Sources say obtaining the funding for the RD&D project would help put the ACP project in a better position to receive the loan guarantee.
“The conference committee will agree to a single bill to cover all these nine areas, including Energy and Water,” the spokesman said. “Assuming it comes off without a hitch and there’s an agreement today or tomorrow it would be voted on first in the house next week, maybe Tuesday, and then in the Senate maybe Thursday or Friday (Dec. 15, 16).”