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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

President Bush proposed increasing the Energy Department budget to $24.3 billion, up nearly 7 percent from the $22.8 billion current appropriation.

The administration wants boosts in spending for research into new technologies for biofuels, hydrogen fuel, coal and vehicles. It would also increase the amount spent on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by 60 percent, to $331.6 million.

Having failed to persuade Congress to fund his Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, the president is proposing an even bigger amount for this area. He asked for $395 million -- 63 percent more than he requested last year and five times as much as currently appropriated.

While Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said that "some elements of DOE's new budget request, such as increases for biomass and biofuels R&D, are positive," he also said that "others appear to reflect the wrong priorities, if we are to build an effective energy future."

Two other areas make up the majority of the department's budget. One, managing the nuclear weapons stockpile, naval reactors and nonproliferation programs, would see a 3 percent increase, to $9.4 billion. The other, cleanup and management of radioactive waste, would be reduced by 4 percent, to $9.4 billion.

The proposal also includes at least one controversial nuclear weapons issue: a request for $88.8 million for a "reliable replacement warhead" that could be launched on submarine-based ballistic missiles. That is more than three times the amount the administration requested last year.

-- Steven Mufson


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