SPECIAL UPDATE: The President's FY2009 Department of Energy Budget
This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's
member societies. More details about NSF's budget for fiscal
year 2009 are available from AGI's appropriations
page for DOE.
On February 4, 2008, the President' fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget
for the Department of Energy (DOE) was revealed by Secretary Samuel
Bodman. The President's request of $25 billion for the Department
would represent an increase of $1.1 billion above the FY08 appropriation
level. The overall increase of 4.7% in the Department's budget compared
to FY08 enacted levels is something few agencies are seeing in this
time of fiscal constraint. The additional funds are targeted toward
coal technologies, nuclear energy programs and U.S. scientific competitiveness
through a significant increase for the Office of Science.
According to Bodman "this budget furthers President Bush's comprehensive
strategy to increase energy, economic, and national security by focusing
on accelerating technological breakthroughs, expanding traditional
and renewable sources of energy, and increasing investment in scientific
discovery and development."
While the proposed increases generally elicited positive responses
from members of Congress, lawmakers did express concern regarding
the decline in funds for the popular weatherization assistance program
within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Congress
will most likely also, haggle with the President on nuclear energy
issues, which have mixed support, and the proposed increase in the
Strategic Petroleum Reserve to 1.5 billion barrels.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The budget within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
(EERE) was slashed by 27% in the FY09 request, losing $1.25 billion.
The renewable energy programs suffered mixed results with the geothermal
program getting a boost to $30 million, an increase of 51% compared
to FY08 levels.
The Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) supported the increase for geothermal: "In
the case of geothermal energy, I'm pleased that the Administration
listened to and worked with Congress to define a new profile for that
program in the recent energy bill, and then came through with a good
funding proposal in this budget request."
The hydrogen and hydropower programs with proposed levels at $146
million and $3 million represent declines of 31% and 70% respectively,
compared to FY08. According to DOE, the hydrogen program is being
realigned with the deferral of hydrogen production and delivery efforts
and instead focuses on the barriers of hydrogen storage.
Office of Fossil Energy
The Office of Fossil Energy would get a $223 million increase above
last year's level for a total of $1.1 billion. Within Fossil Energy
natural gas and petroleum technology programs are terminated again.
These programs have been zeroed out for the past few years, but restored
The proposed budget funnels $632 million in FY09 into the Coal technology
program, $85 million into the Clean Coal Initiative, and $156 million
into FutureGen. Earlier this month, Secretary Bodman announced that
the FutureGen program would be altered from a single facility in Illinois
that would have been designed to demonstrate advanced coal-fire electricity
generation, hydrogen production, and carbon capture and sequestration
to a variety of capture and sequestration projects that will be announced
in an upcoming solicitation.
The leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
Senators Bingaman and Domenici, both indicated in press statements
that they'd like the Department to explain their reasoning for the
programmatic changes in FutureGen.
Also, as part of the Department's focus on 'clean' coal technology
development the Carbon Sequestration Regional Partnerships are slated
to receive $149 million a boost of $30 million in FY09 for continued
efforts to inject one million tons of carbon dioxide into various
Office of Science
The Office of Science proposed budget of $4.7 billion would include
a $749 million increase above FY08 enacted levels and represents an
increase for all programs. The Basic Energy Science program is proposed
to receive a 24% increase above FY08 levels at $1.6 billion, the Chemical
Sciences, Geosciences, and Energy Biosciences program would receive
$75 million above FY08 enacted levels for a total proposed budget
of $297 million. The Biological and Environmental Research program
would be given $414 million in the FY09 budget request and the Climate
Change Research program would receive $155 million, representing an
increase of $6 million and $18 million, respectively.
The increases across the board in the Office of Science are part
of President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and
some of the increases are also consistent with the bipartisan America
COMPETES Act. Both have the overarching goal of keeping America the
most innovative nation in the world through the strengthening of education
and research in science, math and engineering.
However, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) had the following to say about
the implementation of the act into the Department's request. "While
I support the substantial increase for the Office of Science, I do
plan on questioning the Department about how it plans to integrate
the America COMPETES Act within this budget. I had hoped to see specific
components of the COMPETES Act more fully funded in this budget request,
but many simply are not mentioned. I certainly hope that the Department
plans on carrying out the initiatives of this bipartisan law."
Office of Environmental Management
The Office of Environmental Management was established in 1989 to
clean up the waste and contamination from nuclear weapons development
and energy research. It includes an environmental clean-up account
for defense and non-defense activities. Non-defense clean-up activities
would receive a 17% increase in the proposed budget to $213 million,
while defense activities would see a slight decline with total proposed
level of $5.5 billion in FY09.
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
The primary mission of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
(OCRWM) is to develop a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada,
for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from commercial
reactors and atomic energy defense activities. OCRWM receives funds
from defense and non-defense waste disposal programs within DOE. The
Nuclear Waste Disposal program contains funding for Yucca Mountain,
Transportation, Program Management and Program Direction, while the
Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal program only contains funding for Yucca
The Nuclear Waste Disposal program would see a $60 million rise in
funding compared to FY08 for a total of $247 million. The Defense
Nuclear Waste program would also increase in FY09 by 48%, again to
The $495 million budget proposal for Yucca Mountain will be challenged
by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has sworn to terminate
the project in the appropriations process. Last year, Reid was able
to convince enough legislators to cut $104.5 million from the project,
which puts DOE's June deadline for the submission of a license application
to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at risk. However, Bodman assured
reporters that DOE plans on moving forward with the Yucca Mountain
Project and plans submit the license application by the end of 2008;
a new timeline and cost of the repository will be released this spring
based on the FY 08 budget.
Special update prepared by Marcy Gallo, Government Affairs Staff.
Sources: Department of Energy, E & E Daily
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted February 11, 2008