Our Voice: A short wish list for the new Secretary of Energy

April 14, 2013 

We were impressed by Ernest Moniz's testimony before the Senate. He seems to be knowledgeable on Hanford, for the most part.

Clearly his time as undersecretary has given him a good framework to build on.

There are, however, one or two areas where we would like see his knowledge expanded, assuming he is confirmed as the new Secretary of Energy.

We understand his job extends beyond the Mid-Columbia and he is required to be up to speed on all of the nation's energy endeavors, but we are compelled to call attention to our situation.

We agree with Moniz's priority on cleanup and his concern for the safety culture at the vitrification plant.

When it comes to cleanup, funding is always an issue. This is likely to be more important this year than ever. Moniz will be in an unenviable position. Budget cuts, sequestration, furloughs ... they all spell trouble for funding.

It's imperative that money designated for Hanford, for example, not find its way to Los Alamos, for example. Or that money is shifted between programs at our site.

In the hearing Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., grilled Moniz about the snail-like pace of the cleanup.

It is a big job and it has taken a long time. We understand, and in some respects share, Wyden's frustration.

Moniz responded by showing areas where progress has been made. Again, it is a big and complex job -- one that will take a long time.

One project that has proved to be amazingly slow moving is the vitrification plant that will glassify waste.

In Moniz's words, "I would like to be as pragmatic as we can to move the (vit plant) forward."

We agree.

The balance between the safety concerns and stalling the project is delicate. We need this project to keep going, and it needs to be done safely.

A few of the areas where Moniz hedged in his Senate hearing and might need a primer are: making B Reactor into a National Park and the DOE land transfers.

While we're at it, may we throw in a good word for the significance of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory?

These are area's Moniz isn't opposed to, but are well worth learning more about.

B Reactor is an amazing place and tells a great story. It should be preserved.

In the past, land transfers have been free or at minimum cost. The land by itself has no value, but becomes valuable when infrastructure is added to it. It's important to keep in mind.

And PNNL is a gem. It's one of a kind. It melds defense and science. It complements our energy park and our college university.

Moniz is a smart man. He is well poised to lead the department. He is versed in administration and science.

He has expressed interest in coming to the site and seeing thing up close. We look forward to having him visit. We're certain this community will roll out the welcome mat.

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