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SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DON FUQUA, Florida, Chairman
ROBERT A. ROE, New Jersey
MARILYN LLOYD BOUQUARD, Tennessee
BERYL ANTHONY, JR., Arkansas*
LARRY WINN, JR., Kansas
BARRY M. GOLDWATER, JR., California HAMILTON FISH, JR., New York MANUEL LUJAN, JR., New Mexico HAROLD C. HOLLENBECK, New Jersey ROBERT S. WALKER, Pennsylvania EDWIN B. FORSYTHE, New Jersey WILLIAM CARNEY, New York
MARGARET M. HECKLER, Massachusetts F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR., Wisconsin
VIN WEBER, Minnesota
JUDD GREGG, New Hampshire
JOE SKEEN, New Mexico
CLAUDINE SCHNEIDER, Rhode Island
BILL LOWERY, California
THOMAS P. GRUMBLY, Staff Director
JAMES E. JENSEN, Investigator
Qassignment to Budget Committee for 97th Congress.
WEST VALLEY COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT
THURSDAY, JULY 9, 1981
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS AND OVERSIGHT,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:30 a.m., in room 2253, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Albert Gore, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. GORE. The subcommittee will come to order.
Under the Constitution, the executive branch has the responsibility to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." This phrase contains the glue that holds our Government together. Without the implicit trust of Congress in the ability of the Executive to make agreements and administer laws according to congressional intent, the separation of powers becomes meaningless. Even the oversight subcommittees of Congress must and do assume a general level of good-faith commitment by the Executive to carrying out its responsibilities.
That responsibility to faithfully execute the laws is particularly important when the society, through the Congress, is attempting to deal with sensitive problems around which only a tenuous consensus exists. Today, the subcommittee will examine a problem in which it seems clear that the executive branch fell short in its responsibilities, either through carelessness or because of overriding pressure to reach agreement with the State of New York on a nuclear waste problem that has bedeviled the country for years. On October 1, 1980, the President signed into law a bill to provide for the decontamination and decommissioning of the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site. The West Valley facility, near Buffalo, N.Y., was the only commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plant to ever operate in the United States. It ceased operation in 1972, leaving some 600,000 gallons of high-level liquid waste in temporary storage.
Last year's legislation authorized a cooperative agreement between the Department of Energy and the State of New York to solidify and dispose of the waste in the best possible manner. The law and the legislative history represented a consensus on many difficult issues, including the proper roles of Federal and State government in financing the project, the balancing of safety and environmental considerations against the economic realities of our time, the best technologies to achieve the decontamination of the site, and, indeed, the delicate questions of whether nuclear waste sites can be entirely cleaned up.