Today, President Obama unveiled his $3.8 trillion 2013 budget proposal for the federal government. According to Mark Z. Barabak at the LA Times, this budget “is, at its hear, a political document, laying out [the President’s] priorities and, not incidentally, reflecting the strategy he plans to pursue in his reelection bid.”

In the energy sphere, the message was clear – 1) National Security (nuclear), 2) Innovation, 3) Clean Energy

This afternoon, Secretary of Energy Dr. Steve Chu released information specific to the President’s budget request for his Department. With a top line of $27.2 billion (about a 3% increase over last year’s budget), this budget proposal included funding for basic science and research, clean energy, and national security. And, while much of the fanfare surrounding this budget is focused on energy investments, the bottom line reveals that, similar to past years, almost 2/3 of the of the Department of Energy’s funding actually will be spent on nuclear – and we are not talking about power plants.

Out of the $27.2 billion request, 42% ($11.5 billion) is dedicated to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). These funds will be used to not only maintain the nation’s “nuclear deterrence capabilities” but also to reduce international concerns related to nuclear stockpiles (think megatons to megawatts), and providing for the Navy’s nuclear propulsion needs. Within this $11.5 billion is $2.5 billion for the NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation program, an important component in reaching the President's goal of securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear material within four years.

Nuclear Cleanup (environmental and legacy management) represents another $5.8 billion (21%) of the budget.

In comparison, the $770 million that the President requested for nuclear energy (3% of the total budget) – including $60 million for nuclear waste R&D in response to a report by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future – seems like pocket change.

Also in the budget:

  • $5 billion for basic science research
  • $350 million for ARPA-E
  • $60 million for energy storage
  • $276 million for advanced fossil fuel power systems and CCUS (carbon capture, utilization, and storage) technologies
  • $140 million for the existing Energy Innovation Hubs and to establish a new hub that will be focused on grid systems (including the tie between transmission and distribution systems)

The Department of Energy has released an interactive budget online, with links to all of the associated Congressional Justification documentation that is submitted each year with the President’s proposal.

Photo Credit:

1. Photo of President Barack Obama as he delivered remarks to students on the FY 2013 Budget at the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Annandale, Va., campus, Feb. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

2. Graphic of FY13 Department of Energy budget U.S. Department of Energy - Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Budget