Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The Clerk read as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Weldon of Pennsylvania: In section 104--
(1) in subsection (d), strike `$25,000,000' and insert in lieu thereof `$12,500,000'; and
(2) in subsection (f), strike `$6,000,000' and insert in lieu thereof `$18,500,000'.
(Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I thank the distinguished chairman of the committee and the subcommittee, the ranking member, for agreeing to work with me on this amendment, which is an extremely important amendment that has been discussed by Members of both sides of the aisle.
The amendment would restore significant cuts that were made in the bill to the Environmental Intelligence Applications Program, formerly known as the Environmental Task Force. The funding level in the bill has been cut to about one-third of the request, or only $6 million, and, to me, that is really totally unacceptable for a program that is providing not only information for the public good but having tremendous benefits for our national security as well.
I mentioned during earlier discussion, Mr. Chairman, that last year I had a leading scientist from Boris Yeltsin's National Security Council come to America to testify on the problem of the Russian nuclear waste disposal. I have worked with Mr. Yablakov over the past 2 years, and he is one of the outstanding scientists who has been very candid in helping us assess the environmental problems and security implications of those problems and how we can address them.
In fact, because of the revelations of Mr. Yablakov and the Yablakov report that was produced for Mr. Yeltsin 3 years ago, we were able to put money into DOD's bill to actually work with the Russians up in the North Sea and the Bering Sea to help them find ways to deal with their nuclear waste storage and disposal problem.
So this program is of vital interest for our security as well as our relationship with Russia. It has tremendous environmental implications.
This program, which is operated by the intelligence community, has also been the leading driving force behind the MEDEA Program, which is a program that has paid tremendous dividends to our defense establishment in understanding data relative to the oceans of the world, but also allowing us to take information that up until now has been classified and use that for environmental purposes.
In fact, we have a group of some 60 leading scientists who have been working both with the Russian side and with our side on some of the environmental problems relative to the oceans; and we have also, through the MEDEA Program, we have allowed American scientists access to high level information which not only protects our national security but has paid tremendous dividends in helping us more fully understand the environmental implications of those decisions that we make. These programs are vital.
Mr. Chairman, I will submit for the Record the President's message on this bill, the paragraph that refers specifically to the administration's concern with the reduction in this program.
I appreciate the support of my friend and colleague, the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks] and the comments of the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Skaggs]. I understand there is some concern about the bill paying portion of this. My understanding is that the two leaders of this committee have agreed to work this out. I have no problem with that.
As chairman of the Military Research and Development Subcommittee, I am concerned about an action that we take that would have a negative impact on the R&D overall budget, but I am certainly willing to let these gentlemen work that issue out and have confidence that the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Combest] and the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks] can work the funding issue out in a way that would not disrupt our R&D portion of the defense bill that we passed last week.
So, Mr. Chairman, I would encourage our colleagues to support this amendment. It is vital. And I want to thank the chairman of the committee and the ranking member, as well as the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Skaggs] and everyone else for their support of this important environmental initiative. I think it is vital not just for our national security but it is also vital for a better understanding of environmental implications relative to classified data.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word, and I want to commend the gentleman for his amendment.
Mr. SKAGGS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. DICKS. I yield to the gentleman from Colorado.
Mr. SKAGGS. Mr. Chairman, I echo the comments of the gentleman from Washington. I appreciate the gentleman from Pennsylvania's very helpful efforts to plus up the Environmental Intelligence Applications Program account. In discussions that we have just had on the floor, I think there is an understanding that there may be some unintended consequences in the offset that the gentleman proposes, an understanding that we can, I think, reach satisfactory resolution to this problem between now and conference, or in conference.
One ironic consequence, I think, flows from the fact that these two programs are positively linked, not negatively linked. That is, if we cut the declassification efforts, it could get in the way of declassifying some of the Corona product that, under the MEDEA Program, we want to make available.
So I appreciate the efforts on the part of all concerned to both deal with the gentleman's very commendable efforts to augment the environmental effort and not have it negatively affect the declassification efforts.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I want to say to my colleague from Pennsylvania that the one thing I worry about with regard to declassifying, and why it is such an important issue, if we do not do the job of looking through all these documents, we might inadvertently declassify some information that could be harmful to the country. That is why having this process is important.
I do not want to cloud the issue here today. We are prepared to accept the gentleman's amendment. We compliment him on it. This is a very important program to the director and to the vice president, and I want to commend the gentleman for his amendment.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to say we will be very happy to work in getting this amendment cleared up. I do rise in strong support of the amendment of the gentleman from Pennsylvania and recognize the significance and importance of both the declass and the environmental funding to certain members of our committee and will try to make certain that that concern is accommodated.
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Weldon].
The amendment was agreed to.