Note: This story was last updated at 2:50 p.m.
The Trump administration has requested more money for the U.S. Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration than it did last year, but the impact could vary at Oak Ridge’s major federal sites.
The NNSA, a semi-autonomous agency within DOE, would get a big increase of $2.2 billion, compared to spending levels enacted in fiscal year 2017. The boost would raise NNSA funding to $15.1 billion. The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge is an NNSA site.
The NNSA proposal is more than $1 billion higher than the $13.9 billion requested by the Trump administration in fiscal year 2018, which was up $1.4 billion over the fiscal year 2016 spending level ($12.5 billion).
Oak Ridge Today reported last year that Y-12’s funding would have been up 25 percent under President Donald Trump’s budget request for the current fiscal year, if Congress had approved the proposed spending levels.
Most of the proposed increase in the next fiscal year year, or $1.8 billion of the $15.1 billion request for the NNSA, would be for weapons activities, including maintaining the nuclear weapons stockpile and modernizing the nuclear weapons program and site infrastructure. It wasn’t immediately clear what impact the extra money might have on the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12, which would replace some old production facilities at Y-12 and which is supposed to be completed by 2025 at a cost of no more than $6.5 billion.
The total request for DOE for fiscal year 2019, which starts October 1, is $30.6 billion. That’s up $2 billion from the $28 billion requested in fiscal year 2018, the current fiscal year. About half of the $30.6 billion requested for DOE would be the $15.1 billion proposed for the NNSA.
Under Trump’s budget request last year, overall spending for DOE would have dropped by $1.6 billion from $29.6 billion in fiscal year 2016 to $28 billion in fiscal year 2018.
This year’s request will be submitted to Congress, which approves spending bills and can make significant changes to the president’s proposals or ignore them. That’s what Congress did last year with some requests, including with the Trump administration’s proposed cut of about $900 million to funding for the DOE Office of Science in the current fiscal year. That cut, if enacted, could have led to a $185 million funding reduction for Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
In the next fiscal year, under the Trump administration’s current proposal, spending for the Office of Science would stay at $5.4 billion, the same as what was enacted in fiscal year 2017. ORNL is an Office of Science lab.
The administration has proposed a $90 million reduction, compared to fiscal year 2017, for Oak Ridge cleanup activities, including the continued deactivation and demolition work at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, where most cleanup work is expected to be done by 2020. DOE’s cleanup program, its Environmental Management program, also has cleanup work under way or planned at ORNL and Y-12, including the treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes, and the demolition of old, hazardous buildings.
The president’s budget request includes $150 million to deactivate and decommission specific high-risk excess contaminated facilities at Y-12 and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that are not currently in the program’s inventory.
Overall funding for environmental management would be up slightly to $6.6 billion, compared to fiscal year 2018. The proposed increase is $182 million, and the biggest boost for a specific site would be an additional $287 million for the Liquid Tank Waste Management Program at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
The Trump administration had requested $6.5 billion for environmental management in the current fiscal year. That was about $100 million less than what is being requested for the next fiscal year.
Spending for energy programs (energy efficiency and renewable energy, fossil energy research and development, nuclear energy, petroleum reserves, etc.) would be down by $1.9 billion to $2.5 billion, compared to fiscal year 2017 spending. The biggest proposed cut, $1.3 billion, would be to energy efficiency and renewable energy, which would drop to $696 million. The Trump administration also proposed a big cut to that program, or $1.4 billion, in last year’s budget request.
You can see a DOE budget fact sheet here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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