Spending on environmental cleanup of Department of Energy sites could increase some under the initial budget proposal released by President Trump.
The numbers, which the Trump administration calls a budget blueprint rather than a full budget proposal for fiscal 2018, does not break down how the environmental cleanup budget would be distributed among cleanup sites, including the Hanford nuclear reservation.
But Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., said the proposed budget increase “is a great improvement over the last presidential budget request and gives me reason for optimism” that when the more detailed budget proposal is released, it will have strong funding levels for Hanford.
The funding outlook for the other large federal government institution in the Tri-City area, the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, is mixed. There may be increased opportunities for some research, but other research programs would be reduced or eliminated under the budget proposal.
Annually, the president provides a budget request covering federal agencies and their programs to Congress. But it is up to Congress to decide how much money to appropriate to different programs.
As Congress moves forward with its own budget and appropriations process, this is an encouraging proposal that funds Yucca and will enable the federal government to meet its moral and legal obligation to continue Hanford cleanup.
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.
The Trump administration’s request for DOE’s cleanup program, which is administered by the Office of Environmental Management, is $6.5 billion.
That compares with the previous administration’s request for $6.1 billion in the current fiscal year, for which no budget was passed. In fiscal 2016 DOE cleanup work had a budget of $6.2 billion.
The Hanford nuclear reservation receives a significant amount of the Office of Environmental Management cleanup budget, spending as much as $2.3 billion annually.
Hanford is regulated by the state of Washington and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which would see its budget cut 31 percent under the budget blueprint.
The blueprint proposes reining in administration costs and emphasizing efficiency efforts at Superfund sites. Hanford is a Superfund site.
The budget blueprint also proposes $120 million to restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain, Nev., nuclear waste facility and to start an interim storage program.
The repository was planned to hold used fuel from nuclear reactors and defense high-level radioactive waste, including the high-level radioactive waste treated at the Hanford vitrification plant.
The Nevada project was shut down under former President Obama’s administration. It was replaced with a plan to find communities willing to have a permanent repository or interim storage site located nearby.
The private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.
Trump administration’s budget blueprint
“As Congress moves forward with its own budget and appropriations process, this is an encouraging proposal that funds Yucca and will enable the federal government to meet its moral and legal obligation to continue Hanford cleanup,” Newhouse said.
PNNL is a DOE Office of Science laboratory, and the Trump administration proposes cutting the office’s budget by $900 million from the current $5.3 billion.
However, PNNL obtains its money for research from many different agencies and DOE offices.
About half of the lab’s work is for national security, and the Trump administration is proposing increasing spending on national security, including money for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Homeland Security.
But some programs that could be potential sources of research money for the national lab in Richland would be cut under the budget request. The Trump administration is proposing eliminating the Advance Research Project Agency — Energy, or ARPA-E, which invests in early-stage technologies for new ways to generate and store energy.
“The private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies,” the budget blueprint said.
Research under other DOE offices that might be done at DOE, such as the Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy, would focus funding on limited, early-stage applied research, the budget blueprint said.
PNNL has a focus on developing a secure and reliable electric grid, and the budget blueprint said that grid cybersecurity and resiliency activities would be supported under the Trump administration’s proposal, according to the budget blueprint. No funding details were released on grid modernization.