Continuing his defense of the fiscal 2012 budget, US president Barack Obama said the country must make some tough choices in the year ahead, including cutting some programs, freezing some spending, and focusing on economic areas that would help keep the nation competitive.
The high-tech sector qualified as one of the critical areas the president believes would require additional investment in because of the increasingly competitive environment American companies and employees operate in and the need to maintain an environment that sets the country apart in specific economic and manufacturing sectors.
One area of interest for the president is energy, hence the US Energy Department's $29.5 billion budget proposal, which includes spending on energy efficiency and energy renewal programs; clean energy technology; and $5.4 billion for scientific computing, biological, and environmental sciences. The government will also be offering $36 billion in loan guarantees for the nuclear energy industry.
"In an increasingly competitive world in which jobs and businesses are mobile, we have a responsibility to invest in those things that are absolutely critical to preparing our people and our nation for the economic competition of our time," Obama said in a prepared speech. "We do this by investing in and reforming education and job training so that all Americans have the skills necessary to compete in the global economy."
Obama today continued to advocate for his program and held a conference call to discuss the various elements of the budget:
Some highlights of the president's budget request for the Energy Department include:
- $3.2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
- Promoting renewable energy and energy efficient projects with $300 million in credit subsidies to support approximately $3 billion to $4 billion in projects.
- $36 billion in loan guarantee authority to help jumpstart the domestic nuclear industry, as well as additional investments in the research and development of advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors. Combined with existing authority, the additional loan guarantee authority will support 6 to 8 nuclear power projects, which will result in the construction of anywhere from 9 to 13 new reactors.
- $5.4 billion for the Office of Science to expand our investment in basic energy sciences, advanced scientific computing and biological and environmental sciences.
- $550 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to continue support for the promising early-stage research projects that could deliver game-changing clean energy technologies.
- $146 million to support the three existing Energy Innovation Hubs and to establish three new Hubs in the areas of batteries and energy storage; smart grid technologies and systems; and critical materials.
- $100 million to continue supporting 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers started in 2009.
- A five-year fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2016 request of nearly $65 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration.
- To support the President's goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the world in four years, the budget invests $2.5 billion in the NNSA Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation program. This is part of a five-year, $14.2 billion commitment for the program.