Dept. of Energy Favors Renewables, Cuts Yucca Mountain

The Obama administration solidified its plans today to kill the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository while seeking new increases for science and renewable-energy programs in a proposed $26.4 billion Energy Department budget for fiscal 2010.

The total proposal is essentially flat compared to current DOE funding. But that does not include nearly $40 billion showered on the department from the stimulus law for alternative-energy and efficiency initiatives.

The White House’s budget summaries cite $38.7 billion in stimulus cash steered to and through DOE in 2009-2010. DOE has already made several funding announcements and solicitations in areas such as science and biofuels.

Instead of funding Yucca Mountain, the proposed budget would provide almost $197 million for exploring alternatives to the proposed Nevada waste site. All funding for Yucca development would end, the White House says, because President Obama has “made clear that the nation needs a better solution” for disposing high-level nuclear waste.

“Such a solution must be based on sound science and capable of securing broad support, including support from those who live in areas that might be affected by the solution,” the White House said in a document outlining proposed cuts. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is forming a “blue ribbon” commission to weigh nuclear-waste solutions.

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