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Energy: Pushing ‘green’ projects

Available details of President Barack Obama’s proposed government spending for the 2010 budget year that begins on Oct. 1. A more extensive budget outline is expected in April. In most cases, the figures are for discretionary spending and do not include mandatory entitlement programs like Social Security. The percentage change is based on what Obama wants to spend next year compared with what he anticipates the government will spend in 2009 once Congress completes appropriations for this year.

Agency: Energy

2010 proposal: $26.3 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 0.4 percent decrease

Highlights: A dramatic shift away from support for fossil fuels to new “green” energy is at the core of Obama’s first proposed budget.

The Energy Department’s spending plan would pay for “significant increases in basic research” into developing clean and renewable energy including solar, wind and geothermal sources, and to make motor fuel from plants.

Overall spending for the department would change little from what Congress is providing now, but would be about 5 percent higher than what President George Bush proposed a year ago. Compared to the Bush budget, it proposes a major redirection of spending to reflect Obama’s strong support for renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.

While the budget summary provides few specific numbers, it would pump more money into:

• Creating a “smart” electric transmission grid.

• Loan guarantees to bring solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources to market.

• Determining commercial viability of capturing carbon from coal-burning power plants.

• Helping low-income families improve the energy efficiency of their homes, a program the Bush administration wanted to eliminate.

While spending on nuclear weapons programs would remain about the same, Obama calls for scrapping a Bush administration program to build a new, more reliable warhead.

Obama would funnel more money to combat global nuclear proliferation, including safeguarding “loose nukes” in Russia.

The budget calls “a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal” from commercial power plants and would cut spending on the proposed Yucca Mountain waste dump in Nevada.

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