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home : news : national news free August 20, 2014

   
4/12/2013 1:11:00 PM
Obama energy budget: a 35.3 percent increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.8 trillion budget Wednesday for fiscal 2014 that aims to slash the deficit by a net $600 billion over 10 years, raise taxes and trim popular benefit programs, including Social Security and Medicare.

Following are budget detail for the Department of Energy:

Total Spending: $32.5 billion
% Change from 2013: 35.3 percent increase
Discretionary Spending: $28.4 billion
Mandatory Spending: $4.1 billion

Highlights: Obama again would increase spending for two priorities: clean energy and national security. The budget proposal calls for an additional $615 million to increase use of renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower and spends more than $2.1 billion to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and $5.3 billion to clean up nuclear waste at defense-related sites across the nation, including one in Washington state used to build the atomic bomb.

The budget calls for spending $575 million on cutting-edge vehicle technologies, $282 million to develop new biofuels such as ethanol made from switchgrass or other materials and $200 million for a new Energy Security Trust to expand research into electric cars and biofuels to wean automobiles off gasoline. Obama envisions cars that one day can go coast to coast without using any traditional gasoline. Obama says the trust would use revenues from federal leases on offshore drilling without adding to the deficit.

As he has each year in office, Obama again calls for repealing more than $4 billion per year in tax subsidies to oil, gas and other fossil fuel producers. The budget proposal says the plan eliminates “unwarranted and unnecessary subsidies that impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to address the threat of climate change.”

In a surprise move, the budget calls for a strategic review of the Tennessee Valley Authority, opening the possibility that the federally owned utility could be sold. Although TVA does not receive taxpayer appropriations, the utility’s expenditure of borrowed funds does count in the federal deficit. In a statement, the administration said the utility’s anticipated capital needs, which include expansion of nuclear power, are likely to quickly exceed the agency’s $30 billion statutory cap.

The budget slashes funding for a project to turn weapons-grade plutonium into fuels for nuclear reactors and questions the viability of the nearly $8 billion effort. The budget seeks $503 million for the mixed-oxide fuel plant being built at South Carolina’s Savannah River nuclear site — $200 million less than current funding. The plant is part of an international nonproliferation effort, with the United States and Russia committed to disposing of at least 34 metric tons each of weapons-grade plutonium to be turned into commercial nuclear reactor fuel.

The so-called MOX project has undergone years of delays, and the Government Accountability Office says the plant is $3 billion over budget. In its budget request, the administration says it supports the theory behind the project but says it “may be unaffordable.”

The budget also includes $386 million — a $76 million increase over current spending — for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a program that seeks to research on new ways to generate, store and use energy.


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