270 Energy:Reduce Funding for the Office of Nuclear Energy

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings are expressed as budget authority and were calculated using the CBO baseline and by comparing the FY 2014 spending level to the Heritage-proposed spending level of $592.0 million (increased to $600.9 for inflation through 2014) as found on page 16 of Nicolas Loris, “Department of Energy Budget Cuts: Time to End the Hidden Green Stimulus,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2668, March 26, 2012. The FY 2014 funding level of $889.2 million can be found on page 102 of House of Representatives, 113th Congress, 2nd Session, “Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, 2015.” Both spending levels were increased at the same rate as discretionary spending for 2016–2025 according to the CBO’s most recent August 2014 baseline spending projections. The savings represent the difference between the two policies.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Reduce funding the Office of Nuclear Energy. This proposal saves $293 million in 2016, and $3.1 billion over 10 years.


Restart building the Yucca Mountain Project, reduce funding the ONE, & save $3.1 Billion.

Like spending with conventional fuels and renewables, the Department of Energy spends entirely too much money on nuclear projects that should be conducted by the private sector. For example, the Office of Nuclear Energy includes tens of millions of dollars for small modular reactor (SMR) licensing and support programs. While SMRs have great potential, commercialization must be shouldered by the private sector. A portion of available funds should be redirected to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for SMR-licensing preparation. This does not preclude the DOE from engaging in SMR-related work. The President’s Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program is charged with investigating the crosscutting of technologies with applicability to multiple reactor designs, including SMRs.

Cuts to the NEET budget should include eliminating the unnecessary modeling and simulation hub, and tens of millions from the National Scientific User Facility, which supports work that should be funded by the Science budget, if at all. That still leaves approximately $25 million to fund NEET projects. Fuel-cycle research and development should also be cut by $55 million, leaving $120 million, which should almost entirely be dedicated to restart the Yucca Mountain project for storing spent nuclear fuel.

Restart building the Yucca Mountain Project, reduce funding the ONE, & save $3.1 Billion.

Contributing Expert

Nicolas (Nick) Loris, an economist, focuses on energy, environmental and regulatory issues as the Herbert and Joyce Morgan fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Nicolas Loris

Nicolas (Nick) LorisHerbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow

Heritage Experts

Jack Spencer oversees Heritage Foundation research on a wide range of domestic economic issues as director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Those topics include federal spending, taxes, energy and environment, regulation and retirement savings.

See publications by Jack Spencer

Jack SpencerVice President for the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity

Katie Tubb is a Research Associate and Coordinator in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

See publications by Katie Tubb

Katie TubbResearch Associate and Coordinator

Additional Reading