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Energy and Global Warming News for February 2: Obama budget creates infrastructure bank, adds $1B for high-speed rail

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"Energy and Global Warming News for February 2: Obama budget creates infrastructure bank, adds $1B for high-speed rail"

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Proposal creates infrastructure bank, adds $1B for high-speed rail

President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2011 budget would create a national infrastructure bank to fund major transportation projects and provide an additional $1 billion for high-speed rail projects.

As expected, the request for overall spending on the two largest federal ground transportation programs, highways and transit, remained relatively constant from the previous year. The federal highway program would receive a $200 million bump to $41.3 billion, and transit investment would climb roughly $70 million to $10.8 billion.

The infrastructure bank — called a National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund — would be used to expand existing federal transportation investments by providing direct federal funding and seed money for large-scale capital project grants that “provide a significant economic benefit to the nation or a region.”

Obama requested $4 billion to launch the bank, $2.6 billion of which would be handed out in grants or loans during fiscal 2011. Roughly $270 million would be used for administrative, planning and project analysis costs, with the remaining carried over to the next year.

“The National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund will establish a new direction in federal infrastructure investment that emphasizes demonstrable merit and analytical measures of performance,” the budget states.

Obama requested $5 billion to launch the bank last year, but appropriators balked at providing the cash until Congress first passed legislation that would officially create the bank. During his presidential campaign in the summer of 2008, Obama called for a total of $60 billion over 10 years for the bank.

A number of transportation advocates — including Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), the Center for National Policy and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials — have pushed lawmakers to launch the infrastructure fund. Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has said that creating it will be one of his top priorities this year, his last before he retires from the Senate

High-speed rail, livability

Obama also asks for $1 billion for high-speed rail. Last year, the president asked for $1 billion annually for five years to fund the rail projects. However, Congress upped the investment to $2.5 billion for fiscal 2010.

That cash is on top of the $8 billion that the president secured in last year’s stimulus for his vision of a nationwide high-speed rail network. DOT handed out all $8 billion last week, dividing the cash among 31 states. The largest grant, $2.35 billion, went to California.

Republicans and some Democrats have criticized Obama’s decision to spread the cash so thin, arguing the money would have been better invested in only a few major projects that could rival the top speeds of the European and Asian bullet trains many in Congress have lauded.

According to the budget, DOT would have the right to spend the additional $1 billion the president is asking for on any passenger rail project, even if it is unable to reach the 110-mile-per-hour speed necessary for a federal “high-speed” designation. “FRA also may provide grants for intercity passenger rail capital projects unrelated to high-speed rail service,” the budget states.

Obama also is asking for more than $500 million to help state and local governments make more sustainable transportation investments as part of the administration’s much-hyped “livability” initiative.

The cash will be used to encourage regional and community planning efforts that integrate transportation, housing and land use.

“This approach aims to reduce greenhouse gases, improve mobility and transportation access to economic opportunity, and improve housing choices,” the budget says.

For background, see “Make no little plans”: Obama lays out ambitious high-speed rail plan

Growing Pentagon Focus on Energy and Climate

The Pentagon released its  Quadrennial Defense Review on Monday, a wide-ranging report laying out rising priorities for keeping the peace and, when needed, waging war. For the first time, the report “” at the request of lawmakers “” considered  the significance of climate change for national security, both as a potential source of conflict and a factor in military operations.

A core conclusion:

Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.

The report also describes a longstanding, and now intensifying, focus on cutting the use of fuels, which is a huge cost and a security concern on the battlefield. There’s yet another plea “” particularly in light of  expanding shipping activity in the Arctic Ocean “” for ratification of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, which despite support from a series of presidents faces persistent resistance from a small cluster of influential senators. Here’s the section on energy and climate:

Obama’s Budget Pushes Clean Technologies, Cuts Fossil Fuel Incentives

President Obama’s $3.834 trillion budget, to be released today, proposes to inject billions more dollars in clean energy research while slashing federal fossil fuel subsidies, according to White House officials.

The fiscal year 2011 budget will include $6 billion for clean energy technologies, mostly focused on research, development and demonstration, the White House said.

While sending more cash to priority areas, Obama is also seeking a three-year non-military discretionary spending freeze. The move is to help trim a federal deficit that is projected at $1.3 trillion in 2011 and, without efforts to rein it in, expected to balloon further in the next decade.

Obama’s budget proposal will include $20 billion-worth of more than 120 terminations, reductions, and savings. The savings are necessary to fund increases in priority areas while keeping the discretionary baseline flat, according to White House Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orzag.

To further spur a switch to clean energy and trim the deficit, the White House budget will also seek to eliminate tax preferences for oil, gas and coal companies, Orzag said. OMB says the move will raise an additional $40 billion over ten years.

Budget plan seeks nearly $50 million boost for offshore wind development

The White House fiscal year 2011 budget plan seeks a 53 percent boost in Energy Department wind power R&D to support new efforts to tap massive offshore wind resources.

The White House is requesting $123 million for DoE’s wind program, a $43 million increase over current spending. The funding includes $49 million for several activities to support coastal wind power, which is in its infancy in the U.S.

“Investments will address common barriers and risks to offshore projects – financial, regulatory, technical, environmental, and social. Specific activities include: assessment of offshore wind resources and environmental impacts; R&D related to cost-effective offshore foundations, enhanced turbine reliability, domestically manufactured components and specialized installation vessels; and design and planning of electrical cabling and utility interconnection,” DoE’s budget plan states.
“The program will benefit the Nation by engaging all offshore energy stakeholders through interagency, Federal/State, and public/private collaboration to support DOE goals of clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy supply,” it adds.

Developers are already eyeing projects off Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts and other states.

Proposal lets World Bank back ‘clean’ fossil-fuel projects

President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget proposal opens the door for the World Bank to fund more efficient fossil fuel projects as part of a program to help poor countries develop clean technology.

In proposing $400 million for the multilateral development bank’s Clean Technology Fund, the administration includes high-efficiency gas plants that displace coal generation and reduce global warming emissions at least 50 percent in its definition of “clean.”

The State Department budget proposal comes just weeks after the Treasury issued landmark guidelines to discourage the World Bank from putting money into coal or other fossil fuel plants. It also significantly softens a congressional mandate that money for the Clean Technology Fund go only for “zero carbon” and new renewable technologies.

House lawmakers approved language last year that says the fund “will define ‘clean and efficient energy technology’ as a renewable energy supply; or an energy supply that when compared over its life cycle to coal or petroleum-derived fuels used for similar applications in widespread commercial use in a recipient country, will reduce by at least 85% the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Lawmakers specifically noted that clean and efficient energy technologies “do not include those that are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including coal, oil, natural gas and unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands, oil shale and coal-to-liquids,” as well as a handful of other types of projects like large hydropower.

Run by the World Bank, the Clean Technology Fund is supported by a number of countries including Japan, the United Kingdom and Norway. So far it has approved projects for four countries, including Egypt and Mexico, to develop clean energy projects in sectors like transportation and renewable energy.

The World Bank is positioning itself as the main channel for climate funds under any new international agreement, pointing to its success in doling out money through the technology fund.

Clean tech sector wants long term support from Obama

Clean technology companies welcomed hundreds of millions of dollars for the sector in the Obama administration’s proposed budget released on Monday, but called for more long-term support from the U.S. government for the emerging industry.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s new budget includes nearly $2.4 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, an increase from $113 million in the previous budget.[ID:nN01180827]

The renewable energy sector, which includes solar players such as Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd and SunPower Corp and wind turbine makers Vestas Wind Systems and Suzlon struggled in 2009 amid the credit crisis and a dearth of available financing for new projects.

The emerging industry still leans heavily on government incentives. A bill to tackle climate change is stalled in the Senate amid opposition from lawmakers from coal-and oil-producing states, and many companies hope the United States will adopt a renewable electricity standard requiring more power from resources like wind and solar.

J.P. Morgan analyst Christopher Blansett said that measures in the budget such as $500 million in credit subsidies for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects do not account for much in the “big picture perspective.”

“I don’t think people realize the scope of how much money really needs to be spent to make big structural changes in either our energy consumption, use or production,” J.P. Morgan analyst Christopher Blansett said.

Blansett estimated that it will cost between $158 billion to $445 billion if the United States adopts a national electricity standard requiring 15 percent of all electricity in the country to come from renewable resources by 2020.

The range of needed investment would depend on the mix of renewable resources, he added.

Clean-Energy Groups Hitch Wagon To Jobs Bill

“It just isn’t true that in the promised land of the future, clean energy will cost more than carbon-based energy,” Reed E. Hundt, co-chairman of the Coalition for the Green Bank, said today at a press conference to launch Clean Energy Week, a series of workshops, rallies and outreach activities on Capitol Hill.

With the federal budget out today, event participants focused primarily on clean energy as a potential salve to a $1.7 trillion deficit. Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy and moderator of the press conference, suggested that the effect of energy reform on the economy would be largely salutary. She cited a recent study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley forecasting 1.9 million new jobs in clean energy by 2020 in the event that Congress creates incentives for research in the fledgling industry.

The future of cap-and-trade remains uncertain in the Senate, but clean energy is poised for a boost from the jobs bill President Obama called for last week in his State of the Union address. “We never expected 6 months ago that we would be talking about the jobs bill as the bus we get on right now,” said Hundt. But by yoking their agenda to the president’s efforts on the economy, clean-energy proponents hope their message gets a boost.

In contrast to some past environmental campaigns, none of the participants at today’s press conference framed the push for clean energy in moral terms. The purpose of Clean Energy Week is to devise a practical solution, said Jeff Anderson, executive director of the Clean Energy Network. We are “agnostic as to the mechanism,” he said, “as long as it’s transparent.”

For the time being, however, energy legislation is stalled. Lawmakers are not out on the field, said Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy. They are “in the locker room, discussing how to play the game.”

White House boosts nuclear, basic science funding

Nuclear energy and energy research are among the big winners in the proposed $28.4 billion Energy Department fiscal 2011 budget the White House unveiled today.

The almost 5 percent increase in funding from fiscal 2010 covers a $36 billion boost in loan guarantee authority for nuclear power facilities for a total of $54 billion, $300 million for an innovative energy research program, and a $226 million increase in funding for the Office of Science for research and development of “breakthrough” technologies for a total of $5.1 billion.

The White House proposed the additional funds to DOE even as Obama has called for a freeze on non-military spending at 2010 levels.

Obama said his budget request would “build on the largest investment in clean energy in history, as well as increase investment in scientific research.”

In keeping with his theme that the United States is at risk of falling behind the rest of the world in clean energy, Obama said those programs will produce the “jobs of the future” in the United States.

“We also continue to lay a new foundation for lasting growth, which is essential, as well,” Obama said today at the White House. “Just as it would be a terrible mistake to borrow against our children’s future to pay our way today, it would be equally wrong to neglect their future by failing to invest in areas that will determine our economic success in this new century.”

DOE projects did not go unscathed in the administration’s new battle to slow the deficit spending. The administration proposed to cancel the $20 million renovation of the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, a linear accelerator built 30 years ago. The Obama administration says it no longer plays a critical role in weapons research.

“We’re saving $20 million by stopping the refurbishment of a Department of Energy science center that the Department of Energy does not want to refurbish,” Obama said.

Local lawmakers might disagree with the proposal, however, and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has significant influence over DOE’s budget.

As promised, the White House’s proposed budget also eliminates funding for development of the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.; moves all administration to the Office of Nuclear Energy; and “will discontinue” its repository license application at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The budget includes $98 million to fund various state and local agencies associated with the project, to wind down the project and to provide $5 million for a “blue ribbon” commission to find an alternative solution to Yucca Mountain.

Energy research

The administration would continue its push to advance clean energy research and development by pouring $300 million into the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, an innovative program designed to develop transformational energy technologies.

The program got its official start with a $15 million appropriation in fiscal 2009 and a $400 million boost from the stimulus. But Congress appropriated no funds for the high-risk, high-reward research program in fiscal 2010. Administration officials, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, have championed the program, and the boost in this year’s funding request is a show of confidence for the program, which has so far awarded 37 grants of about $4 million each.

Under the administration’s request, funding for ARPA-E would be pulled out of the Office of Science and funded separately.

The Office of Science would also see a significant jolt in funding under the president’s request. The administration would provide the office, which operates the bulk of DOE’s research and development programs as well as 10 of the nation’s 17 national laboratories, with $5.12 billion, an increase of about 4.5 percent over fiscal 2010 appropriated levels.

Contributing to that boost is a $226 million increase in basic research and laboratory funding.

A program funding basic energy research would get a 12 percent boost over fiscal 2010 appropriated levels to discover new ways to produce, store and use energy. The $1.8 billion request for basic energy sciences would support fundamental research as well as two innovative programs championed by Chu: the energy frontier research centers and energy “innovation hubs.”

In its funding request for fiscal 2010, the administration called for funding eight hubs in various energy and engineering disciplines, but Congress provided appropriations for three. The request for fiscal 2011 does not specify whether the additional six hubs should be funded.

Renewable energy

As with the overall DOE budget, the administration is asking Congress for a 5 percent increase for the energy efficiency and renewable energy section of the budget.

The requests reflect a sharp turn toward Democratic-favored sources of energy such as wind and solar and energy-saving methods such as weatherization. Those increases come at the expense of the George W. Bush administration’s favorites like hydropower and hydrogen.

Weatherization programs are the biggest winner. The administration sought $385 million, an 83 percent increase from the $210 million that Congress approved last year.

The request for wind power jumped 54 percent, from $80 million last year to $123 million this year. The administration also wants a big boost in solar programs, seeking a hike from $225 million last year to $302 million this year, which would be a 34 percent increase.

The budget proposal recommends a 21 percent cut for the hydrogen technology program, taking it from $174 million to $137 million. But that is not unexpected.

President George W. Bush had made the idea of hydrogen cars the centerpiece of his renewable energy and energy independence plans. But the Obama administration essentially sought to nix the program. It requested zero dollars for the hydrogen program and suggested limiting research to nonvehicle fuel cells.

The Senate did not share the same disdain and put $190 million in the bill. In conference, lawmakers settled on the $174 million figure.

Hydropower, a favorite of Western developers, would also take a cut if Obama gets his way. The administration is seeking to slice the program’s funds from $50 million to $41 million, a 9 percent cut.

The administration’s 2011 budget also includes $500 million to cover initial fees, or “credit subsidies,” to support the $3 billion to $5 billion in loan guarantee authority for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Fossil energy

Fossil energy programs would decrease slightly from fiscal 2010 appropriated levels, but carbon capture and sequestration research, development and demonstration projects will remain strongly funded.

The president requested $587 million for the Office of Fossil Energy after the office was appropriated with a little more than $700 million in fiscal 2010. That figure was supplemented by $3.4 billion for carbon capture and storage projects in the stimulus bill.

The fiscal 2011 request includes no funding for FutureGen, a $2.4 billion public-private project envisioned as a commercial-scale integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant with carbon capture and sequestration capability. The program was conceived and then axed by George W. Bush’s administration before being resurrected by the Obama administration last year, although the administration has not given its final word on the project’s future.

Exelon Corp. gave a show of confidence this weekend by announcing it would join the FutureGen Alliance (see related story). And DOE is expected to announce a decision in the coming weeks about whether the project has obtained the required additional funding and cost reductions.

DOE has said it plans to spend about $1.1 billion on the Illinois project, but the vast majority of that funding will come from the $3.4 billion for carbon capture and storage in the stimulus law.

The president would cut $34 million in funding for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve compared with appropriated fiscal 2010 levels. The requested $210 million would provide ongoing storage site operations and maintenance activities as well as provide further insurance against oil supply disruptions. The president’s budget would cancel plans for new site expansion proposed by previous budgets and appropriations and instead use those funds to account for the cut.

Nuclear energy

The most significant item for nuclear energy is laid out in the loan guarantee program, but the 2011 proposed budget also provides a 5 percent increase for research and development of nuclear technology for a total request of $824 million. The budget would eliminate funding for programs created under Bush including Nuclear Power 2010 and Generation IV.

Obama instead seeks to create new R&D programs “to better align program functions with strategic goals.” The budget supports work on small modular reactors, long-term use of lightweight reactors and next generation nuclear reactors with $195 million for the “Reactor Concepts Research, Development and Demonstration” program. The White House also proposes $99 million to work on “cross-cutting” and “transformative” solutions for the full nuclear cycle in the “Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies” program, which includes $24 million for a modeling and simulation hub.

The “Fuel Cycle R&D” program aimed at researching and developing waste recycling technology receives $201 million, a more than $40 million jump from the $136 million provided by Congress in the 2010 funding.

Nonproliferation numbers jump for NNSA

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) would receive $11.2 billion under the president’s request, a 13.5 percent increase from fiscal 2010 appropriations. That amounts to just over 39.4 percent of DOE’s $28.4 budget request.

In its comments on the proposed budget, the administration highlighted a $550 million increase in the request for programs aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation, including “full funding” of programs to secure nuclear material; develop technology that targets nuclear testing and smuggling; and support international treaties, controls and regulations for nonproliferation.

The request includes $8.1 billion to improve the safety, security and effectiveness of the nuclear weapons stockpile, a $750 million boost over 2010 appropriations, DOE said.

When broken out by program, NNSA’s nonproliferation activities would see a 22 percent increase in funding under the proposed budget, going from nearly $2.2 billion appropriated in fiscal 2010 to $2.687 billion.

The Global Threat Reduction Initiative would see the biggest increase, going from $224 million in 2010 appropriations to $559 million for a 67 percent boost. That program seeks to secure vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials at civilian sites around the world and addressing nuclear material and research reactors.

Programs for nonproliferation and verification R&D and international nuclear materials protection would also see increases, while a program for nonproliferation and international security would get slightly less funding and a program for the elimination of weapons-grade plutonium production, scheduled to complete its work in 2010, would be zeroed out from the $83 million appropriated in fiscal 2010.

A program for surplus fissile materials disposition would increase by 31 percent to $917 million under the proposal. In last year’s budget, that program included funding for mixed-oxide fuel fabrication, though this year’s document does not specify what that includes.

NNSA funding for the environmental cleanup of defense sites would be slightly below 2010 appropriated figures under the proposed budget, with a proposed $5.58 billion, or a 2.5 percent decrease. Non-defense environmental cleanup is cut under the proposed budget to $238 million, after Congress provided $245 million for 2010.

Nuclear energy and energy research are among the big winners in the proposed $28.4 billion Energy Department fiscal 2011 budget the White House unveiled today.

The almost 5 percent increase in funding from fiscal 2010 covers a $36 billion boost in loan guarantee authority for nuclear power facilities for a total of $54 billion, $300 million for an innovative energy research program, and a $226 million increase in funding for the Office of Science for research and development of “breakthrough” technologies for a total of $5.1 billion.

The White House proposed the additional funds to DOE even as Obama has called for a freeze on non-military spending at 2010 levels.

Obama said his budget request would “build on the largest investment in clean energy in history, as well as increase investment in scientific research.”

In keeping with his theme that the United States is at risk of falling behind the rest of the world in clean energy, Obama said those programs will produce the “jobs of the future” in the United States.

“We also continue to lay a new foundation for lasting growth, which is essential, as well,” Obama said today at the White House. “Just as it would be a terrible mistake to borrow against our children’s future to pay our way today, it would be equally wrong to neglect their future by failing to invest in areas that will determine our economic success in this new century.”

DOE projects did not go unscathed in the administration’s new battle to slow the deficit spending. The administration proposed to cancel the $20 million renovation of the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, a linear accelerator built 30 years ago. The Obama administration says it no longer plays a critical role in weapons research.

“We’re saving $20 million by stopping the refurbishment of a Department of Energy science center that the Department of Energy does not want to refurbish,” Obama said.

Local lawmakers might disagree with the proposal, however, and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has significant influence over DOE’s budget.

As promised, the White House’s proposed budget also eliminates funding for development of the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.; moves all administration to the Office of Nuclear Energy; and “will discontinue” its repository license application at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The budget includes $98 million to fund various state and local agencies associated with the project, to wind down the project and to provide $5 million for a “blue ribbon” commission to find an alternative solution to Yucca Mountain.

Energy research

The administration would continue its push to advance clean energy research and development by pouring $300 million into the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, an innovative program designed to develop transformational energy technologies.

The program got its official start with a $15 million appropriation in fiscal 2009 and a $400 million boost from the stimulus. But Congress appropriated no funds for the high-risk, high-reward research program in fiscal 2010. Administration officials, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, have championed the program, and the boost in this year’s funding request is a show of confidence for the program, which has so far awarded 37 grants of about $4 million each.

Under the administration’s request, funding for ARPA-E would be pulled out of the Office of Science and funded separately.

The Office of Science would also see a significant jolt in funding under the president’s request. The administration would provide the office, which operates the bulk of DOE’s research and development programs as well as 10 of the nation’s 17 national laboratories, with $5.12 billion, an increase of about 4.5 percent over fiscal 2010 appropriated levels.

Contributing to that boost is a $226 million increase in basic research and laboratory funding.

A program funding basic energy research would get a 12 percent boost over fiscal 2010 appropriated levels to discover new ways to produce, store and use energy. The $1.8 billion request for basic energy sciences would support fundamental research as well as two innovative programs championed by Chu: the energy frontier research centers and energy “innovation hubs.”

In its funding request for fiscal 2010, the administration called for funding eight hubs in various energy and engineering disciplines, but Congress provided appropriations for three. The request for fiscal 2011 does not specify whether the additional six hubs should be funded.

Renewable energy

As with the overall DOE budget, the administration is asking Congress for a 5 percent increase for the energy efficiency and renewable energy section of the budget.

The requests reflect a sharp turn toward Democratic-favored sources of energy such as wind and solar and energy-saving methods such as weatherization. Those increases come at the expense of the George W. Bush administration’s favorites like hydropower and hydrogen.

Weatherization programs are the biggest winner. The administration sought $385 million, an 83 percent increase from the $210 million that Congress approved last year.

The request for wind power jumped 54 percent, from $80 million last year to $123 million this year. The administration also wants a big boost in solar programs, seeking a hike from $225 million last year to $302 million this year, which would be a 34 percent increase.

The budget proposal recommends a 21 percent cut for the hydrogen technology program, taking it from $174 million to $137 million. But that is not unexpected.

President George W. Bush had made the idea of hydrogen cars the centerpiece of his renewable energy and energy independence plans. But the Obama administration essentially sought to nix the program. It requested zero dollars for the hydrogen program and suggested limiting research to nonvehicle fuel cells.

The Senate did not share the same disdain and put $190 million in the bill. In conference, lawmakers settled on the $174 million figure.

Hydropower, a favorite of Western developers, would also take a cut if Obama gets his way. The administration is seeking to slice the program’s funds from $50 million to $41 million, a 9 percent cut.

The administration’s 2011 budget also includes $500 million to cover initial fees, or “credit subsidies,” to support the $3 billion to $5 billion in loan guarantee authority for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Fossil energy

Fossil energy programs would decrease slightly from fiscal 2010 appropriated levels, but carbon capture and sequestration research, development and demonstration projects will remain strongly funded.

The president requested $587 million for the Office of Fossil Energy after the office was appropriated with a little more than $700 million in fiscal 2010. That figure was supplemented by $3.4 billion for carbon capture and storage projects in the stimulus bill.

The fiscal 2011 request includes no funding for FutureGen, a $2.4 billion public-private project envisioned as a commercial-scale integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant with carbon capture and sequestration capability. The program was conceived and then axed by George W. Bush’s administration before being resurrected by the Obama administration last year, although the administration has not given its final word on the project’s future.

Exelon Corp. gave a show of confidence this weekend by announcing it would join the FutureGen Alliance (see related story). And DOE is expected to announce a decision in the coming weeks about whether the project has obtained the required additional funding and cost reductions.

DOE has said it plans to spend about $1.1 billion on the Illinois project, but the vast majority of that funding will come from the $3.4 billion for carbon capture and storage in the stimulus law.

The president would cut $34 million in funding for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve compared with appropriated fiscal 2010 levels. The requested $210 million would provide ongoing storage site operations and maintenance activities as well as provide further insurance against oil supply disruptions. The president’s budget would cancel plans for new site expansion proposed by previous budgets and appropriations and instead use those funds to account for the cut.

Nuclear energy

The most significant item for nuclear energy is laid out in the loan guarantee program, but the 2011 proposed budget also provides a 5 percent increase for research and development of nuclear technology for a total request of $824 million. The budget would eliminate funding for programs created under Bush including Nuclear Power 2010 and Generation IV.

Obama instead seeks to create new R&D programs “to better align program functions with strategic goals.” The budget supports work on small modular reactors, long-term use of lightweight reactors and next generation nuclear reactors with $195 million for the “Reactor Concepts Research, Development and Demonstration” program. The White House also proposes $99 million to work on “cross-cutting” and “transformative” solutions for the full nuclear cycle in the “Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies” program, which includes $24 million for a modeling and simulation hub.

The “Fuel Cycle R&D” program aimed at researching and developing waste recycling technology receives $201 million, a more than $40 million jump from the $136 million provided by Congress in the 2010 funding.

Nonproliferation numbers jump for NNSA

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) would receive $11.2 billion under the president’s request, a 13.5 percent increase from fiscal 2010 appropriations. That amounts to just over 39.4 percent of DOE’s $28.4 budget request.

In its comments on the proposed budget, the administration highlighted a $550 million increase in the request for programs aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation, including “full funding” of programs to secure nuclear material; develop technology that targets nuclear testing and smuggling; and support international treaties, controls and regulations for nonproliferation.

The request includes $8.1 billion to improve the safety, security and effectiveness of the nuclear weapons stockpile, a $750 million boost over 2010 appropriations, DOE said.

When broken out by program, NNSA’s nonproliferation activities would see a 22 percent increase in funding under the proposed budget, going from nearly $2.2 billion appropriated in fiscal 2010 to $2.687 billion.

The Global Threat Reduction Initiative would see the biggest increase, going from $224 million in 2010 appropriations to $559 million for a 67 percent boost. That program seeks to secure vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials at civilian sites around the world and addressing nuclear material and research reactors.

Programs for nonproliferation and verification R&D and international nuclear materials protection would also see increases, while a program for nonproliferation and international security would get slightly less funding and a program for the elimination of weapons-grade plutonium production, scheduled to complete its work in 2010, would be zeroed out from the $83 million appropriated in fiscal 2010.

A program for surplus fissile materials disposition would increase by 31 percent to $917 million under the proposal. In last year’s budget, that program included funding for mixed-oxide fuel fabrication, though this year’s document does not specify what that includes.

NNSA funding for the environmental cleanup of defense sites would be slightly below 2010 appropriated figures under the proposed budget, with a proposed $5.58 billion, or a 2.5 percent decrease. Non-defense environmental cleanup is cut under the proposed budget to $238 million, after Congress provided $245 million for 2010.

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4 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for February 2: Obama budget creates infrastructure bank, adds $1B for high-speed rail

  1. Dave W says:

    Even those of us who are skeptical of many of the claims of the global warming advocates can think high speed rail a very good idea. After all we will run out of oil in the not too distant future.

  2. James Newberry says:

    Sixty billion dollars for more bailout and “research” of the poisonous, uneconomic, dead and dying concept of boiling water with the military weapon system of atomic fission (it manufactures plutonium and was invented for the Nagasaki atomic bomb). Not even corrupt Wall Street invests unless it can play the racket through corrupt financing. This is why investment in new nuclear has been dead for decades in the US. The American public cannot sustain more poisonous contamination and national debt as far as the eye can see.

    This bankrupting “budget” encourages the middle-east to “go nuclear,” in a “globalized marketplace” thereby allowing diversion to nuclear weapons systems in a most unstable region. The rhetoric about borrowing the children’s future could not be more ironic. Apparently, all three branches of government have gone over to the dark side of (global) corporatism (and the “national insecurity state”). The lies of this administration are only compounding, like the national debt. Mr. President, “safe and clean” atomic fission is pure fraud.

  3. Vince says:

    Wow! One whole billion dollars. What will that do? Lay a few miles of high speed rail. More bold change from President Hope and Change.

    How much did we just give to Wall Street? If this is considered good news for a good cause then I can only believe that our standards on this front continue to trend downward.

    [JR: Does nobody read links? That is one additional billion dollars.]

  4. Leif says:

    Given the long term prospects for New Orleans survival with unmitigated rising sea levels, I would scratch that spur as wasted effort. The same for the Miami run.