The Obama budget asks for $29.9 billion for the Energy Department, which manages the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons and materials in addition to fostering research and development of energy technologies. The request is a 9.2 percent, or $2.5 billion, increase over the current fiscal year.
The biggest part of the department’s proposed budget, $12.6 billion, would go to the department’s National Nuclear Security Administration to maintain the nuclear stockpile, reduce threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, and bolster the capabilities of the nuclear Navy.
Another $5.8 billion would go to cleaning up old Cold War-era nuclear sites, such as the 586-square mile Hanford facility the government used to produce plutonium for defense purposes. Hanford alone would get $2.328 billion, most of it for tank farms and a waste treatment plant designed to protect the Columbia River there. The administration asked for a $202 million increase for the protection of the Columbia River, but it trimmed its request for other related operations by $93 million. The total would also include money to repair damage from a fire and radiation leak that shut down the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
The department would also get $5.34 billion to support its scientific research. The Energy Department operates the national laboratories, such as Sandia, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore, and $325 million, a 16 percent increase, for its Advanced Research Projects Agency, which has established hubs for research into new energy technologies.
Another $2.72 billion would go to the department’s programs for promoting energy efficiency, including standards for new appliances, and renewable energy technologies. The request represents a huge $809 million increase over the appropriated amount for the current fiscal year.
The department would also get extra money for cyber-security, $44 million for a 10 megawatt pilot power plant for supercritical coal, $356 million for modernizing the electrical grid, and $244 million for research into sub-surface well bores and seismic techniques.