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I would hope we could confine our inquiries and questions to the scope of this proceeding. We will certainly have an opportunity for everybody to ask a question and to be fully informed.
We should direct ourselves to the question before us and not the merit or demerits of the project.
Mr. OTTINGER. I wonder if I might make a brief statement. The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is recognized.
Mr. OTTINGER. I would like to express my distress that John Deutch, who was the former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy, who had responsibility for this project, is not able to come and testify on this matter before us today.
At my request he has written the Chair with respect to his opinion on this and I think having him here to answer questions would have been very helpful.
I am particularly concerned since my request that he be invited to testify was looked at so negatively by Dr. Hanson, our executive director, who expressed to me the attitude that we don't want differing opinions on this because it will only confuse us.
We want to know what the costs are from the Department.
It seems to me it is our responsibility to exercise a very difficult judgment in these matters. We ought to get the maximum amount of information we can to enlighten us on this matter.
Mr. Deutch, at my request, did write to the Chair and gave his position. With your permission, I would like to read his letter into the record at this point so the other members have the benefit of that information.
The CHAIRMAN. We can make a copy of it a part of the record if it will help expedite the proceedings.
[The letter follows:]
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY
JOHN M. DEUTCH
ARTHUR C. COPE
May 11, 1981
Hon. Don Fuqua
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Last week's vote by your Committee to terminate the Clinch River Breeder Reactor (CRBR) Project was an important decision to strengthen our nation's energy future.
As you know, I favor nuclear energy and breeder reactor research and development. Nevertheless, while Undersecretary of the Department of Energy, I consistently advised that the CRBR be cancelled because the project is technically outdated, too expensive for what could be learned from it, and directed toward uneconomical and premature commercialization of the breeder. A much wiser course of action would be to commence a new, modern breeder research and development project in the mid-eighties; this new project appropriately could be sited in the neighborhood of the CRBR location in Tennessee.
Your Committee's action can make available much-needed resources for other energy research and development areas, including more pressing nuclear programs, such as awayfrom-reactor storage, light water reactor reliability and safety, and the development of important alternative nuclear reactor systems such as the High Temperature GasCooled Reactor.
Several members of your committee have requested my opinion on the amounts required to be appropriated for CRBR close-out costs and consequent FY82 program funding. In my judgment, close-out costs should approximate $80-120M, including activities to "box-up" components, pay contract termination costs, and complete work (including some design effort) that makes sense in an orderly termination. It is my understanding that approximately $40M in FY81 funds will remain unobligated (assuming a June 1 termination), to which $50M presently pending in the FY81 supplemental request could be added. Therefore, the maximum required funding for FY82 would be $30M.
I do not believe that it would be wise to devote substantial additional resources to completion of the CRBR design. From a technical viewpoint, these resources would be better spent if allocated to the design of a new breeder research and development plant.
As to the disposition of the utility contributions to the CRBR project, which I understand amount to $110-115M, my strong view is that this is a legal matter best left to negotiation between DOE and the participating utilities. I would not pre-judge the outcome of these negotiations, and I certainly would not advocate putting any funds into the FY82 authorization bill to cover this contingency.
Under your leadership, the Science and Technology Committee can achieve significant savings for the U.S. taxpayer, help put in place a stronger energy technology program, and design a new breeder development effort that takes better advantage of the advances that have been made in the breeder base program during the past ten years.
As always, I stand ready to assist the Committee in this effort, and I congratulate you for your continuing strong leadership in the energy research and development area.
Mr. OTTINGER. He comes out with the conclusion that the total: Closeout costs should approximate $80-120 million, including activities to "boxup” components, pay contract termination costs, and complete work, including some design effort that makes sense in an orderly termination. It is my understanding that approximately $40 million in fiscal year 1981 funds will remain unobligated, assuming a June 1 termination, to which $50 million presently pending in the fiscal year 1981 supplemental request could be added. Therefore, the maximum required funding for fiscal year 1982 would be $30 million.
He comes out very strongly, as well, to say we should not pay the design costs because he feels the design of any future breeder reactor we might build for commercial purposes would certainly not use this design.
I think that is very important information. I think it ought to be before the committee.
Mr. HARKIN. I would just like to request that we have the staff make copies of it right now.
The CHAIRMAN. It is my understanding they are in the process of doing that, and another letter from the Department of Energy which will be made available to all members.
Mr. HARKIN. I would like to ask if there is any possibility of having John Deutch before us. We have had him many times in the past.
The CHAIRMAN. I might say, in addition, Dr. Deutch found he had another commitment and was unable to be here.
Mr. OTTINGER. He arranged for canceling out his previous schedule and coming down here.
It is necessary that he be in California tonight. He said he got the impression that he was really not wanted and that was certainly the impression I got.
I don't think that was quite the opinion of the Chair. I have always known the chairman to be a fair person and I would think he would want to have as many conflicting points of view from knowledgeable people as he could get in order that he could arrive at the best possible decision.
The CHAIRMAN. When the committee met Thursday afternoon we asked who were the people we should have. The gentleman from New York suggested we have someone from GAO. We have someone from GAO. Dr. Deutch's name was not mentioned at that time. He is a very knowledgeable person.
Mr. OTTINGER. I said we would like to get somebody with differing points of view and I did not know who that would be at the time. The time limits under which we are operating are very restricted and I appreciate that. He is the best person I could come up with in the limited time we had.
Dr. Deutch did have responsibility in this area and I think it would be helpful to have him appear before the committee. I think it would be valuable to have him answer questions.
I am very grateful to him for providing this letter which does give some information which ought to be helfpul to the committee in making its decision.
Mr. ERTEL. Mr. Chairman, I have heard Dr. Deutch testify here in the past. I do not necessarily agree with him all the time, but I think it would be helpful, since he has a lot of knowledge about this, that he would be helpful in appearing before us. Just because he has left the Government doesn't mean he has lost all his expertise.
I think we ought to try to set up a special hearing to have him here so we can get the benefit of his knowledge.
Mr. WOLPE. Mr. Chairman, I also had a conversation on Friday with the director of the staff with respect to some other names that were suggested to me as people who were knowledgeable in this
I do not know the individuals in the Office of Management and Budget, but they are most conversant with this particular subject. I wonder if any invitation was extended to them.
The CHAIRMAN. A letter was directed to the Office of Management and Budget asking that they send someone up. I did not tell them who to send up.
Mr. WOLPE. I also mentioned the names of two individuals, Shelby Brewer and Woody Cunningham within the Department of Energy. I understand they are particularly knowledgeable about the subject.
Was an invitation extended to them?
The CHAIRMAN. An invitation was extended to the Secretary of Energy to provide people who would be of most help to the committee in answering the questions we may have.
Mr. WOLPE. Thank you.
Mrs. BOUQUARD. In view of the statements that were made regarding Dr. Deutch's testimony, if we are going into this in depth I think we should see his testimony on the previous R. & D. program where he felt we should put more money into the project.
I think that should be included as well.
Mr. WINN. Mr. Chairman, I just want to point out while we are debating about who we ought to have up here, we have some pretty high-paid Government witnesses who have been waiting to testify and I think we ought to proceed.
The CHAIRMAN. I think the point is well taken. If we can work out a time when Dr. Deutch can be here, I have no objection. I think we owe it to the Department of Energy to find out from them their position on the matter. And then within reason we could have Dr. Deutch or someone else who has a contrary view.
The CHAIRMAN. I would now like to recognize Dr. Gates.
We have Mr. Lochlin Caffey, director of the Clinch River breeder reactor project, who will make a statement on behalf of the Department of Energy.