The Energy Department will receive about $470 million -- or 3.8 percent -- less than the Reagan administration had sought for fiscal 1985. It was one of the few agencies for which Congress cut the administration's request.
Most of the cuts came in the area of nuclear weapons. "The members thought that the administration overestimated the amount of money they would need for weapons manufacturing," said Aaron Edmondson, an aide on the House Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development. "They still have a hefty increase over fiscal 1984 and will be able to make as many weapons as necessary."
The budget for weapons manufacturing increased from $3.67 billion in fiscal 1981 to $6.55 billion in fiscal 1984. For fiscal 1985, Congress approved $7.36 billion, instead of the $7.8 billion for weapons President Reagan had requested.
The only major increase in the department's $11.789 billion budget was to purchase additional petroleum for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Congress asked the DOE to increase the reserve's "fill rate" from 145,000 to 159,000 barrels of oil a day. At the increased level, about 53 million barrels will be added to the 430 million barrels that the reserve had at the beginning of the year.
"As far as I know, we generally got pretty much what we wanted, with minor exceptions," said DOE deputy press secretary Phil Keif.
Congress cut by $10 million the funds for operating oil wells on the Naval Petroleum Reserves, saying that because of declining oil prices the wells could reduce their production levels, DOE officials said.
Congress also cut $19 million from the $746 million that Reagan had sought for science and research.
Congress increased coal research and energy conservation programs by $59 million each. The $164 million budget for solar research also was increased by nearly 10 percent.