Oak Ridge

Rick Perry visits Oak Ridge as Trump pushes cuts to Department of Energy budget

Newly appointed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry toured several labs at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex Monday, reports the News Sentinel. The former Texas governor rode around in 3D-printed vehicles and talked about President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts for the Department of Energy.

According to Science Magazine, Trump’s proposed budget would cut $900 million, some 17 percent, of the $5 billion budget for DOE’s Office of Science. And it would eliminate DOE’s roughly $300 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

“I know how to budget, I know how to manage and I know how to prioritize. Obviously what you see here, I happen to think is a high priority,” he said. “I have not been in the job long enough to go through line item by line item, but because the budgeting process is nigh upon us here, I’m doing my homework every day.

“Hopefully, we will be able to make that argument to our friends in Congress, that what DOE is involved with, particularly on the economic development side, plays a vital role not only in the security of America, but in the economic well-being of this country as we go forward,” he said.

Perry said the budgeting process was not his first rodeo, something ORNL Lab Director Thom Mason could relate to.

“I mean we’re an Office of Science lab, so if you reduce Office of Science budget by 17 percent we’re going to feel that … if that was the final answer I would be quite worried with how we would respond,” Mason said after the tour. “Having been through the budget process many, many times now I kind of recognize that you need to let things play out.”

Perry agreed and said he expects to see the proposed budget change before it is passed.

Trump poised to reshape TVA, Oak Ridge National Lab policies

The Times-Free Press today has a lengthy analysis of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential impact on the two biggest Tennessee operations under federal control – the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory operated by the Department of Energy.

At TVA, Trump will be able to appoint a majority of TVA board members this year. Given that he promised on the campaign trail to revive the nation’s coal industry, that sets up a potential clash with current TVA policy of reducing the use of coal in electricity generation.

TVA has cut its share of power derived from coal from more than two thirds of its generation in the late 1980s to only about a third of TVA’s generation today. TVA CEO Bill Johnson, appointed by the Obama board and recently given a pay raise, says TVA’s long-term goal is to get no more than 20 percent of its power from coal.

At ORNL, Trump has pledged to rebuild and modernize the nation’s nuclear capability. That could mean billions more in spending at ORNL and related facilities in Tennessee.

Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker are quoted saying, basically, they are content with the way things are going now at TVA and don’t expect any dramatic changes under a Trump-appointed board – though some business leaders and power distributors are quoted as being concerned about the prospect.

Both senators voice optimism about things at ORNL and the Department of Energy, where Trump has nominated former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as secretary – though Perry has called for abolishing DOE.