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Trump May Hike US Energy Budget To Handle Nuclear Waste

17 March 2017, 6:58 am EDT By Kalyan Kumar Tech Times
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Amidst budget cuts for climate agencies, the Trump budget will be liberal on the Energy Department with a hike for managing the nuclear waste. This will be done by prioritizing the overall energy budget and scrapping of some energy programs.   ( Olivier Douliery | Getty Images )

Even as criticism is mounting on slashing climate funding and allocations on science programs, the budget plan of President Trump would be generous with the energy department.

This will be to manage the nuclear stockpile and revive the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility.

In the new allocations, the National Nuclear Security Administration budget would get a rise of 11.3 percent while axing many of the programs run by Energy Department with an estimated cut of almost 18 percent.

More Funds For Nuclear Waste Management

In the budget for Energy Department, nearly half the money goes into maintaining the nuclear stockpile and cleaning the waste left by programs of nuclear weapons research and production. In the budget, the president would provide $6.5 billion for thie program.

The Obama administration had dropped the Yucca Mountain storage facility meant to hold commercial nuclear waste in the underground for 1 million years.

The revival of Yucca project is supported by the Nuclear Energy Institute but is strongly opposed by ex-Senators like Harry M. Reid.

While the energy budget spending would be pruned 5.6 percent from the current levels to $28 billion, with redistribution of funds based on priority.

The slashed budget will have Office of Science losing $900 million from its average corpus of $5 billion from which research is supported by more than 300 universities and most of the national labs.

Popular Energy Programs Facing Axe

Among the programs that may be dumped will include Energy Star labels and Weatherization Assistance. The latter doles out funding to states and low-income families of ancient tribes for improving energy efficiency.

Also to be scrapped are the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy that spends $300 million on basic research.

Other notables to be scrapped are Title 17 loan guarantees that assist energy projects with a low-carbon orientation and Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. The latter had supported companies like Tesla in the electric cars development and for launching combustion engines made of light materials as in the case of Ford.

"The private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies," the Office of Management and Budget said.

Paris Deal And Energy Companies

Meanwhile, Trump's administration has sought the views of U.S. energy companies on the U.N. global climate accord, according to sources.

The move is being interpreted as a sign that Trump is planning to retreat from his 2016 campaign stand of backing out of the Paris Climate deal.

Many of the companies replied that they want the United States to remain in the deal and offered support for U.S. commitments.

The accord has the backing of nearly 200 countries to limit global warming by slashing carbon dioxide and other emissions from fossil fuels. The United States will be required to reduce emissions between 26 and 28 percent to come down to below 2005 levels by 2025.

The companies contacted were "publicly traded fossil fuel companies," and it was known that the White House wanted their inputs before taking a decision on the Paris accord.

The sources said the White House has been leading the discussions with the companies, not the State Department. However, a White House official declined to comment.

Calling climate change a hoax, Trump had said if he wins, the White House will "cancel the Paris Climate Agreement" within 100 days, as the deal is too costly for the U.S. economy.

After assuming office, Trump has been mostly quiet on the issue and said in an interview that he would keep an open mind on the Paris deal. He also met with climate change advocate and former Vice President Al Gore in December.

Among the energy companies, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips have expressed support for the pact. The World Coal Association which has Peabody and other miners, also said it backs the deal.

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