Senators question Bush energy priorities

Feb. 10, 2004 at 5:23 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Senators from both parties questioned Bush White House energy priorities Tuesday in Washington, citing the small spending increases proposed for next year.

Democrats and Republicans both expressed concern during a Senate hearing on President Bush's proposed $24.3 billion Energy Department budget for 2005. The Senators focused on the 1.2 percent overall increase in spending and reductions in areas such as physical sciences and other non-health related research.

But much of the concern reflected special interest and home state needs.

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee's ranking member, Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M, questioned the administration's focus on hydrogen energy at the "expense of other energy programs."

Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., focused specifically on the White House's proposed 40 percent reduction in research spending on nuclear energy.

Much of the questioning of Deputy Secretary of Energy Kyle McSlarrow also included agency plans to open a controversial nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, by 2010.

The plan is opposed by many Nevada interests.

McSlarrow told the committee that while much work still had to be done on the project, it will result in a, "safe repository for nuclear waste."

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