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Trump budget proposal revives Yucca Mountain spending

WASHINGTON — The Trump budget proposal would boost Energy Department spending on managing the nation’s nuclear stockpile and reviving the Yucca Mountain storage facility for nuclear power plant waste in Nevada but would slash spending on a host of science and climate areas.

The president’s budget would cut spending overall by $1.7 billion — or 5.6 percent from current levels — to $28 billion. But the money is redistributed. The National Nuclear Security Administration budget would grow 11.3 percent while the rest of the Energy Department’s programs would be cut by 17.9 percent.

The Office of Science would lose $900 million of its just over $5 billion. The office supports research at more than 300 universities and at 10 of the nation’s 17 national labs.

The president would drop programs such as the Energy Star labels consumers use when buying appliances; the Weatherization Assistance Program that provides grants to states and some Indian tribes to improve energy efficiency for low-income families; and the State Energy Program, which gives grants to states.

It would also eliminate altogether the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which is popular in Congress and spends $300 million on basic research; Title 17 loan guarantees for new low-carbon energy projects; and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which has helped such companies as Tesla develop electric cars and Ford develop more-efficient combustion engines and light materials.

The Office of Management and Budget said “the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.” The proposal would also slice $2 billion in unspecified cuts from other offices.

More than half of the Energy Department budget goes to maintaining the nation’s nuclear stockpile and cleaning up waste left by nuclear weapons research and production. The president would provide $6.5 billion for this program.

The Yucca Mountain storage facility, designed to hold commercial nuclear waste deep underground for 1 million years, was dropped during the Obama administration. Moving ahead with Yucca is backed by the Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear energy trade group, but was strongly opposed by recently retired Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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