Originally created 04/28/01

Lawmakers oppose plan to cut facility's budget



U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham has signed the latest letter opposing a proposed $159 million cut to Savannah River Site's budget.

Mr. Graham, R-S.C., and fellow Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., have written to the House Budget Committee to push for a $1 billion addition to the Bush Administration's budget proposal for environmental cleanup at nuclear-weapons sites such as SRS.

The administration's proposal for $5.9 billion in fiscal year 2002 would trim funding for SRS cleanup by about $159 million. The new federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

SRS supporters, members of Congress and some nuclear watchdog groups have opposed the proposed cut, saying it would slow cleanup of the site. A local economic-development group has estimated that the proposed cut would eliminate 2,000 jobs from SRS.

"This will have dramatic effects on communities and sites throughout the nation while putting the environment at risk," Mr. Graham and Mr. Hastings wrote of the administration's proposal.

The House letter mirrored one sent Tuesday to the Senate Budget Committee by seven U.S. senators, including U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C. That letter also asked for a $1 billion increase in environmental-management funding at nuclear weapons sites.

Both houses have passed resolutions calling for funding increases. The Senate resolution called for a $1 billion increase; The House resolution called for an increase of $750 million.

Republican congressional candidate Gresham Barrett, who wants to replace Mr. Graham in the seat for South Carolina's Third Congressional District, also announced opposition to the proposed SRS cut Friday during a campaign swing through Aiken.

"Savannah River Site is a unique and complex facility," Mr. Barrett said in a statement. "Now is not the time to scale back the mission of SRS, much less critical cleanup efforts."

Reach Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409.