The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 10, 2013

Ag, education cuts, energy boosted: Agency by agency guide to Obama's 2014 budget

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Highlights: Obama again would increase spending for two priorities: clean energy and national security. The budget proposal calls for an additional $615 million to increase use of renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower and spends more than $2.1 billion to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and $5.3 billion to clean up nuclear waste at defense-related sites across the nation, including one in Washington state used to build the atomic bomb.

The budget calls for spending $575 million on cutting-edge vehicle technologies, $282 million to develop new biofuels such as ethanol made from switchgrass or other materials and $200 million for a new Energy Security Trust to expand research into electric cars and biofuels to wean automobiles off gasoline. Obama envisions cars that one day can go coast to coast without using any traditional gasoline. Obama says the trust would use revenues from federal leases on offshore drilling without adding to the deficit.

As he has each year in office, Obama again calls for repealing more than $4 billion per year in tax subsidies to oil, gas and other fossil fuel producers. The budget proposal says the plan eliminates "unwarranted and unnecessary subsidies that impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to address the threat of climate change."

The budget slashes funding for a project to turn weapons-grade plutonium into fuels for nuclear reactors and questions the viability of the nearly $8 billion effort. The budget seeks $503 million for the mixed-oxide fuel plant being built at South Carolina's Savannah River nuclear site — $200 million less than current funding. The plant is part of an international nonproliferation effort, with the United States and Russia committed to disposing of at least 34 metric tons each of weapons-grade plutonium to be turned into commercial nuclear reactor fuel.

The so-called MOX project has undergone years of delays, and the Government Accountability Office says the plant is $3 billion over budget. In its budget request, the administration says it supports the theory behind the project but says it "may be unaffordable."

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