WASHINGTON—The Department of Energy has released its proposed $17.8 billion fiscal year 2000 budget. Nuclear energy programs are budgeted at $269.3 million, which is $5.9 million higher than in the FY99 funding level.
The budget proposal asks for $87.3 million in Nuclear Energy Research and Development, compared with $73.7 million in FY99, partly to:
initiate the Nuclear Energy Plant Optimization program at $5 million,
expand the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI) to $25 million, compared with $19 million in FY99, and
increase support for infrastructure at the Test Reactor Area to $9 million, compared with $6.8 million in FY99. Also included is:
$11.3 million for the University Reactor Fuel Assistance and Support program, compared with $11 million in FY99, and
$21 million for the Isotope Support program, which includes a new Advanced Nuclear Medicine Initiative proposed at $2.5 million.
For its Nuclear Waste Disposal Program, DOE's budget request is for a total of $409 million, which would be offset by the use of $39 million of previously appropriated funds. Of the $370 million proposed request, $258 million would come from the Nuclear Waste Disposal appropriation and $112 million from the Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal. The remainder would come from the release and transfer of $39 million of the $85 million reserve appropriated in the FY96 Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal.
The FY2000 waste disposal program request allocates:
$331.7 million for continued characterization of Yucca Mountain, a $49.3 million increase over FY99;
$5.7 million for Waste Acceptance, Storage and Transportation, compared with $1.8 million in FY99;
$11.8 million for program integration, compared with $11.3 million in FY99;
$59.8 million for program direction, compared with $58.5 million in FY99.
No money was requested for accelerator transmutation of waste, which was budgeted at $4 million in FY99.
The Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund budget request is for $240.2 million, compared with $220.2 million in FY99. The total Environmental FY2000 budget request will be offset by a federal government contribution of $420 million into the Uranium Enrichment D&D Fund from the amount appropriated to the Department within the Defense Environmental Restoration and Waste Management appropriation account. In addition, an estimated $184 million from assessments of domestic utilities will be deposited into the Fund.
The International Nuclear Safety program request is for $34 million, compared with $30 million in FY99.
Other proposed budget items include:
$200 million for the Fissile Materials Control and Disposition program.
an increase for Uranium Programs to $41 million reflects proposed new activities related to depleted uranium hexafloride conversion.
Requested funding for Solar and Renewables Resources Technologies programs, which do not include any work for nuclear, total $446 million, compared with $383.9 million in FY99.
Programs devoted to Environment, Safety and Health are requested at the $50.7 million level, compared to $47.4 million in FY99.
NEI has released the following statement by Nuclear Energy Institute Vice President John Kane in response to the Energy Department's action:
"In many areas the Department of Energy's budget request shows an appropriate level of investment in nuclear energy. But given the administration's professed commitment to clean the air of harmful pollutants and nuclear energy's place as the nation's leading source of emission-free electricity, it is surprising that the budget request makes only a minimal investment in programs that would help nuclear power play an even greater role in achieving the nation's environmental goals.
"The industry applauds the Energy Department's proposal to fully fund the nuclear waste management program, although we strongly object to the department's effort to tap $39 million from funds set aside specifically for interim storage of used fuel. Because that money will be needed for interim storage, Congress should not permit the Energy Department to siphon that $39 million for other program uses. Along with enactment of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (H.R. 45), full funding of the federal government's repository program is essential.
"In the energy resources area, the industry supports continued investment in the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI). The hundreds of proposals that the Energy Department has received in recent months for NERI grant funding demonstrates that this program holds tremendous potential to advance the technology.
"We believe Congress should increase the proposed $5 million in funding for the Nuclear Energy Plant Optimization (NEPO) program. Nuclear energy clearly is the nation's workhorse in helping to achieve air-quality goals, and for that reason the Energy Department's budget request in that area is disappointing. The administration is on record in acknowledging that the nation needs nuclear energy to achieve its Kyoto climate change goals, yet its lopsided funding request for other non-emitting technologies that yield only a fraction of the clean-air benefits that nuclear energy does begs the question of how serious the administration really is about achieving those goals."
"The industry is pleased to see the Energy Department's $200 million request for fissile materials disposition. This program is crucial in advancing nonproliferation goals and protecting the United States' national interest by helping Russia to begin disposing of surplus weapons plutonium."
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.