Note: This story was last updated at 4:20 p.m.
Funding for the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge would be up about 25 percent under the budget request submitted to Congress in May, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The total funding for Y-12 would be $1.64 billion, the NNSA said. That’s an increase of 25.4 percent over fiscal year 2016.
The budget request for fiscal year 2018, which starts October 1, was submitted by President Donald Trump to Congress on Tuesday, May 23. The NNSA request of $13.9 billion would increase funding by 7.8 percent compared to fiscal year 2017, Administrator Frank G. Klotz said during a teleconference with reporters on May 23.
Trump’s budget request has not yet been approved by Congress, where there has been bipartisan opposition, particularly to the proposed cuts. In Oak Ridge, sites and programs that could be cut include Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which would have a funding reduction of $206 million over two years, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, or EERE.
But Y-12, a National Nuclear Security Administration site, could benefit if the president’s budget request were approved by Congress. A House spending bill introduced last week for federal energy and water departments appears to include proposed spending levels for the NNSA, a semi-autonomous agency within DOE, that are similar to what the Trump administration has proposed.
Oak Ridge Today has previously reported that the fiscal year 2018 budget request for the NNSA includes money to start construction of two buildings that will be part of the Uranium Processing Facility, or UPF, at Y-12. Those two buildings are the Main Process Building and the Salvage and Accountability Building.
The $663 million budget request for the UPF, a spending increase from previous years (see page 6 here), would help keep the project on track for completion by 2025 at a cost of no more than $6.5 billion, said Bob Raines, NNSA associate administrator for acquisition and project management.
Besides the proposed funding increase for Y-12 and the two UPF buildings, the president’s budget request also includes $17 million for the planned Mercury Treatment Facility at Y-12. That funding request would be enough to finish the design of the Mercury Treatment Facility and start construction, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, or EM.
The president’s budget request also includes $225 million in funding to allow EM to address specific high-risk excess contaminated facilities at Y-12 and another National Nuclear Security Administration site, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
The budget request also includes $29 million for operating onsite waste disposal facilities and performing surveillance and maintenance at Y-12’s excess facilities. That appears to be a decrease from previous years (see page 19 here).
The total $13.9 billion funding for the NNSA would be about half of the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposed $28 billion budget. While the NNSA would have a funding increase, DOE could have an overall funding cut of about $2.9 billion, compared to fiscal year 2017. DOE spokespeople in Washington, D.C., have not responded to a question about whether the president’s budget request cuts spending on science- and education-related programs, and increases funding for national security and nuclear weapons work.
If approved by Congress, the fiscal year 2018 funding for NNSA would include:
- $10.2 billion for Weapons Activities—$1.4 billion above fiscal year 2016—to maintain the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nuclear stockpile, to continue the nuclear modernization program, and to modernize NNSA’s nuclear security infrastructure portfolio. This amount, $10.2 billion, is roughly what is included in the House appropriations bill. (See page 32 here.)
- $1.8 billion for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation—$147 million below fiscal year 2016—to continue missions across the entire nuclear threat spectrum. The budget request includes $270 million, $70 million below fiscal year 2016, to terminate the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina with an orderly and safe closure of the facility, and $9 million to pursue the dilute-and-dispose method as an alternative. This amount for nuclear nonproliferation, $1.8 billion, is roughly what is included in the House appropriations bill. (See page 33 here.)
- $1.5 billion for Naval Reactors—an increase of $104 million from fiscal year 2016—to support the current fleet and to create the future fleet. This amount, $1.5 billion, is roughly what is included in the House appropriations bill. (See page 34 here.)
It’s not clear what Congress will end up approving. Some officials think some of the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to DOE science and energy programs are unlikely to be approved, and it’s not clear how that opposition might affect the overall budget process. Some officials think Oak Ridge will emerge okay in the end, and others have said they think a continuing resolution, keeping spending at current levels, is the most likely outcome.
Klotz was asked during the May 23 teleconference whether there is an alternative budget if Congress doesn’t adopt the one that has been proposed by the Trump administration. Klotz responded that there has been very broad bipartisan support and consensus on the need for a nuclear deterrent.
“My expectation is that the budget which we have sent forward for NNSA, which was very carefully, thoughtfully and methodically crafted over the past few months, will speak for itself before Congress,” Klotz said. As with the last several budgets, he thinks it will be successful, Klotz said.
Learn more by reading these documents:
- See the fiscal year 2018 budget brief here.
- See the fiscal year 2018 budget fact sheet here.
- See the fiscal year 2018 preliminary laboratory tables here.
- See the fiscal year 2018 statistical tables by organization here.
- See the fiscal year 2018 House appropriations bill introduced last week here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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