Cantwell Secures Commitments on Hanford Cleanup from Energy Secretary Nominee

Brouillette: Hanford “ranks right at the top of my priority list”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, questioned President Trump’s nominee for Energy Secretary, Dan R. Brouillette, on his commitment to the ongoing clean-up efforts at Hanford. 

“We need, obviously, to get the right budget,” Senator Cantwell said. “I’m sure you know very well the challenges that we face as a state, and that we have milestones and they have to be met. And that there’s a legal obligation by the Department of Energy to meet those milestones. So I would just like to hear your commitment again to working with all of us and meeting those milestones.” 

In his response, Brouillette committed to the Hanford clean-up as one of his top priorities. 

“I’m fully committed to that, senator,” Brouillette responded. “We’re going to continue the mission at Hanford, we’re going to continue the progress already made, as I mentioned earlier…. It ranks right at the top of my priority list, and should I be confirmed as secretary, I will be there quite often.” 

Recalling a conversation with Cantwell in 2017 about the importance of continuity for the clean-up efforts, Brouillette said: 

“You pointed out to me at that time, I think rightfully so, that you were concerned that a new administration comes in and the program changes. In other words, we move the ship to the right or the left and we do a 180 and things slow down and nothing gets done and clean-ups do not happen on time. We have chosen not to do that. And it’s largely at your advice and largely at your direction.” 

“That should be good news for everybody in the Northwest, and for the nation, because it obviously is a very complex clean-up problem. I think people forget the elements of what we did in meeting the nation’s need in securing production at that time. But we have to remember that the clean-up responsibilities are just as dire and challenging. So thank you for that commitment,” Cantwell said. 

Senator Cantwell has long championed the Hanford clean-up and defended its budget against cuts. Last year, she led the successful effort to defeat proposed drastic cuts to the Hanford budget. And earlier this year, she questioned Energy Secretary Rick Perry on significant shortfalls in the department’s proposed budget for the ongoing clean-up at Hanford.