Cantwell Questions Energy Secretary Perry on Hanford Budget Proposal

Cantwell: “It’s the largest clean-up site in the entire world… I guarantee you, Hanford is never going to be done on the cheap”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine the Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request for the Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the committee, questioned Energy Secretary Rick Perry on significant shortfalls in the department’s proposed budget for the ongoing clean-up at Hanford.

According to budget documents from the Richland Operations Office and the Office of River Protection to the Energy Department’s Assistant Secretary of Environmental Management Anne White, the administration’s proposed $416 million cut to Hanford’s budget from FY 2019 levels falls short of the funding necessary to stay in compliance with the Tri-Party Agreement and binding consent decree obligations. The Tri-Party Agreement requires DOE to submit a budget request for an amount that includes “estimated funding levels required to achieve full compliance with this Agreement.”

“When the people out at Hanford did the budget and said this is what it takes to comply with the Tri-Party agreement, they came up with numbers that then the administration is ignoring,” Senator Cantwell said. “The people on the ground who work for you are putting numbers on the table and then the administration… is making a decision that is different from that. And these are the people who have to meet the milestones of compliance.”

In her remarks, Cantwell urged Perry to work with the local community and experts to ensure Hanford continues to get the funding needed to meet clean-up goals and compliance requirements.

“It’s the largest clean-up site in the entire world. The complexity is off the charts,” Cantwell continued. “But that is what it’s going to take to live up to our responsibility – having people scrub the numbers in the local community and submit them.”

“We’ve got to get on the same page because I guarantee you, Hanford is never going to be done on the cheap,” Cantwell said.

As the chart below summarizes, the Office of River Protection’s FY 2020 compliance request was $1.853 billion, $453 million more than the president’s budget request. The Richland Operations Office’s FY 2020 compliance budget request was $1.398 billion, $680 million more than President Trump requested.


2019 Enacted

2020 Administration Proposal

Compliance Request

Office of River Protection

$1.6 B



Richland Operations








Senator Cantwell has long prioritized the Hanford clean-up and defended its budget against cuts. Last year, she led the successful effort to defeat a similar proposed cut to the Hanford budget by the Trump administration.