California Senator Diane Feisnstein’s energy and water appropriations subcommittee is this week taking up the spending bill that funds the Department of Energy for fiscal year 2012. The bill raises spending for clean energy and innovation and cuts it for fossil and nuclear energy, but neither by as much as the White House budget requested.
The Obama administration budget requests roughly $30.6 billion for the Department of Energy. Within that total, innovation and clean energy would receive increased funding, while nuclear and fossil energy, would see reduced funding.
Although the Senate appropriations bill stays with that general guideline, and it reverses the budget cuts to clean energy programs by the Republican-held House, it comes in below White House requests, providing DOE with a total of $25.49 billion to be divvied up. The total is hardly different from the House bill which also fell $5.9 billion below President Obama’s FY12 request. But it picks smaller battles over how the money is allocated.
The Republican House guts the clean energy programs, energy efficiency and research spending that has been a priority for the Obama administration.
Under the Senate appropriation, according to Clean Energy Report, ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would get an increase of $70 million over FY11 levels for a total of $250 million. By contrast, the House budget would cut this to $100 million, $450 million below Obama’s FY12 request for the agency of $550 million.
On the other hand, the Senate cuts the fossil energy program $186 million below current levels, to $259 million, where the House budget increased the DOE fossil energy funding to $477 million. Under the Senate bill, nuclear funding would be cut by $142 million, to $584 million. The House would fund the DOE nuclear program at $734 million.
The Senate Committee approved $1.796 billion in funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).The House would cut it $1.9 billion below President Obama’s requested 3.2 billion, funding the office at $1.3 billion.
The Senate appropriates $4.843 billion in funding for the Office of Science (close to the White House request for $5.4 billion) and $141 million for the Electricity and Energy Reliability office, which supports the integration of renewable energy into the power grid, and provides a boost to the Energy Information Administration, calling for $10 million above the current FY11 level.
The full Appropriations Committee takes up the measure this week. The Obama administration is looking for Senate Democrats to produce a bill that funds DOE at higher levels than the House-passed bill would provide, but the realities of the Republican filibuster in the Senate and GOP control of the House means that is not possible.
These modest increases and decreases are a far cry from the $90 billion in clean energy funding Democrats could pass under the Recovery Act, during the few months from March to August 2009 when Democrats briefly held the 60 Senate seats needed to pass clean energy agendas.
Rather than apportion blame, Americans should understand that budgets like these are inevitable when those who support clean energy don’t vote.
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