President Barack Obama has requested $27.2 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the 2013 budget proposal he has put forth to the United States Congress.
At face value $27.2 billion may seem like a lot of money; however, relative the total $3.7 trillion the President has asked to spend, the DOE's portion is a drop in the bucket.
Additionally, while spending increases have been proposed for many departments like the Internal Revenue Service (up 4.7% from 2012 to $92.1 billion), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (up 8.4% from 2012 to $1.18 trillion) and the Federal Highway Administration (the largest increase from 2012 up 103% to $81.1 billion), the DOE allotment is down $2.3 billion from what the president originally asked for in the 2012 budget.
Even amidst the decrease, Energy Secretary Steven Chu hailed the budget request, saying:
“The choice we face as a nation is simple: do we want the clean energy technologies of tomorrow to be invented in America by American innovators, made by American workers and sold around the world, or do we want to concede those jobs to our competitors? We can and must compete for those jobs. This budget request includes responsible investments in an American economy that is built to last.”
On Monday, while speaking about the 2013 budget proposal Obama said, "In the State of the Union, I outlined a blueprint for an economy that is built to last -– an economy built on new manufacturing, and new sources of energy, and new skills and education for the American people. Today, we’re releasing the details of that blueprint in the form of next year’s budget."
In terms of supporting "new sources of energy" here is how the funding will be dolled out to the DOE:
- $60 million to perform critical research on energy storage systems and devise new approaches for battery storage.
- $770 million for nuclear energy, including $65 million for cost-shared awards to support first-of-a-kind small modular reactors and $60 million for nuclear waste R&D that aligns with the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.
- $276 million for research and development of advanced fossil fuel power systems and carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies to allow for the continued use of our abundant domestic coal resources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- $350 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to continue support for promising early-stage research projects that could deliver game-changing clean energy technologies.
- $120 million to support the Energy Frontier Research Centers and $140 million for the five existing Energy Innovation Hubs and to establish a new hub to focus on grid systems and the tie between transmission and distribution systems.
- $11.5 billion to protect Americans by maintaining U.S. nuclear deterrence capabilities, reducing nuclear dangers in an increasingly unstable and unpredictable world, and providing for the Navy’s nuclear propulsion needs.
As was the case last year, the clear majority of the funding will support nuclear power development. This comes with little surprise as the Obama Administration has been clanging the bell to ring in a new era of nuclear power generation. And, despite a shake up in the world's view of the safety of nuclear power following the disaster in Japan in March 2011, the Administration is succeeding.
Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Combined Construction and Operating license to Southern Co. to construct the nation's first new nuclear reactors in 30 years. Southern Co. has been awarded an $8.33 billion DOE loan guarantee to support the construction of the nuclear reactor project.
The budget also included a modest nod of $8.344 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Their are several areas in which the EPA's funding will affect the energy sector including:
- A $10 million increase to the Agency's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory for certification and compliance testing programs and to evaluate new biofuels technologies.
- $81 million to conduct research in key areas such as hydraulic fracturing, potential endocrine disruptors, and green infrastructure.
- $14 million to assess potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on air quality, water quality, and ecosystems.
Commenting on the budget, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said, “It has taken hard work and difficult choices to reach this balanced approach, and while we had to make sacrifices, we have maintained our commitment to the core priorities of this agency and ensured the protections the American people expect and deserve.”
Image Credit: whitehouse.gov
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