Cantwell Secures Commitment from Energy Secretary Nominee that Biden Administration Will Fully Fund Hanford Cleanup

Energy Secretary-Designee Granholm tells Cantwell she will meet Tri-Party Agreement funding levels, support HAMMER facility, prioritize grid storage work at PNNL

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing today with former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, President Biden’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Energy, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) secured Granholm’s commitment to submit department budgets that meet the commitments made in the Tri-Party Agreement.

“You and I had a chance to talk about Hanford,” Cantwell said to Granholm. “I just wanted to reiterate it being one of the largest cleanup projects in the entire world. Hanford is the federal government’s second-largest obligation… So, as I mentioned to you, often that administrations come in and try to cut corners. Last year, the Trump administration proposed funding at 46 percent below what DOE said was needed for the Tri-Party Agreement compliance. So I hope that you can commit to putting forward a budget that helps keep its milestones that are laid out as part of a Tri-Party Agreement?”

“You have that commitment,” Granholm responded.

Cantwell also applauded former Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette for his dedication to completing construction of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Nuclear Waste plant and highlighted the critical work being done by the Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response (HAMMER) center.

“As far as workforce safety, that is a major issue at Hanford. The HAMMER facility helps the training and skilling of a workforce to continue to be ready to meet all the challenges at Hanford. I hope you’ll commit to supporting that.”

“Yes,” Granholm replied.

In her Q&A with Granholm, Cantwell also highlighted the energy storage research being done at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) and asked Granholm to prioritize the work.

“Our national laboratories play a pretty big role in the next generation of energy policy and enabling,” Cantwell said. “One in particular, the Grid Storage Launch Pad at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, is really important in doing the next level work on commercialization of long-duration grid scale storage at one-tenth of the cost of today's lithium ion batteries. So I hope that these projects at our National Laboratory will be priorities for you and so will the funding.”

“Absolutely. Very excited about it,” Granholm said.

Senator Cantwell has long championed Hanford clean-up and played a leading role in defending its budget against cuts. Throughout the Trump administration she repeatedly led the charge in opposing drastic cuts to the Hanford budget, and last year she led a successful effort to defeat a provision in the annual National Defense Authorization Act that could have diverted billions in funding from nuclear waste cleanup priorities.

Video from Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with Granholm is available HERE, audio is HERE, and a transcript is HERE.