Clean Power

Published on June 20th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


$113 Million Cut From Renewable Energy Spending By Republican Bill

June 20th, 2014 by  

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) has authored the “2015 Energy and Water” bill, which was recently approved by a House Appropriations Committee subpanel. It calls for $113 million in cuts to renewable energy programs and over $500 million in increases for spending on fossil fuels.

Image Credit: Leaflet, Wiki Commons

Image Credit: Leaflet, Wiki Commons

A statement from the bill’s press release summed up the changes: “In order to balance investments in all energy sources, research and development to advanced coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy technologies, which will help the country make greater use of our rich natural energy resources and help keep down energy costs, are funded at $593 million – an increase of $30.9 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. In addition, funding for nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration activities is increased by $9.8 million for a total funding level of $899 million. Renewable energy programs, which are funded at $1.8 billion in the bill, are cut by $113 million from last year’s enacted level.”

One might assume from the misleading language used in the press release that wind and sunlight are not natural resources, but oil, coal and natural gas are. The full text of the proposed legislation is here, but be warned it is a PDF file over 60 pages.

Some of the cuts were aimed at ARPA-E, eliminating about 81% of the program’s budget. A Democratic Representative from Ohio, Marcy Kaptur, said that the proposed cuts would effectively eliminate ARPA-E. She is the ranking member on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee. (Kaptur helped secure Congressional funding for 180th Fighter Wing solar array and solar energy projects at the University of Toledo.)

Eliminating ARPA-E would probably not be considered a particularly intelligent thing to do. One argument for keeping it operating is that it is too early to cut its funding, because it hasn’t been functioning long enough to reach its full potential.

Earlier this year, some of its success was documented by Greentech Media. “On Tuesday, ARPA-E announced that twenty-two projects that have received about $95 million in federal funding have raised a collective $625 million in private-sector investment. That figure is up from last year’s tally of seventeen projects with $70 million in ARPA-E funding gathering $450 million in private sector funding.” Expecting all ARPA-E projects to always be successful is very unrealistic and is a standard not held to the private sector.

People who follow politics — especially energy politics — are not likely to be surprised by a Republican bill that tries to cut funding for renewable energy. In 2013, Republicans put forth a proposal to cut the renewable energy budget in half. Similar cuts were proposed by Republicans in 2011 as well. In 1995, they were just as resistant to renewable energy. It’s an ongoing story.

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  • Mickey Askins

    Fossil fuel pimps are like drug dealers, they want to keep you hooked. Clean energy subsidies should be growing by simply transferring any fossil fuel subsidies to clean energy. Energy independence is not weening ourselves off foreign oil, it is weening ourselves off all oil and fossil fuels as much as possible.

  • Benjamin Nead
  • Scotts Contracting

    why not make cuts to energy subsides all around? If whats best for America is clean energy cuts than it would also be good for America if Dirty Energy was also cut. Savings for the Tax Payer all around!

    • Guest

      And the one denier isn’t a peer reviewed specialist in the field either.

      • Scotts Contracting

        I am the farthest thing from being a “Denier” on the climate change issue and stand by my post: If the GOP wants to cut clean energy then they should also cut dirty energy $. Tit for Tat or whatever its called. We know the Republicans will not do this so it stands to reason that clean energy should not be cut as well.

  • Guest

    Perhaps this cartoon is appropriate.

  • JamesWimberley

    Targeting ARPA-E makes a kind of sense from the Kochs’ perspective, as it’s technical progress in wind and solar more than Obama’s climate change policy that dooms their business. But here’s the news for them: it’s too late. Current renewable technology, plus the stuff already in the commercial pipeline (sic), is already good enough to blow coal and oil away. The long-range ideas funded by ARPA-E will merely save consumers a few trillion over the life of the transition. Anyway, the Kochs have no leverage over the ample budgets of Fraunhofer and the JST, so eliminating their US counterpart will not stop the arrival of perovskite cells and the like: they just won’t be made by American companies.

    • Oy, that last bit is the part that US voters (and non-voters) should really see and digest.

  • Kompani

    As an EU citizen I am appalled at this short sighted, pre 21st century, thinking. Don’t these people understand any science?

    • Offgridmanpolktn

      Simply put NO!
      As a more in depth explanation these pretend christians are paid well enough by the fossil fuel industries that they would rather refuse health care to the common people and allow the destruction of our environment while they live high on the hog because they won’t be here long enough to suffer the results.

      • Kompani

        If it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. They are destined for the same fate as the dinosaurs – only a few with evolve the rest will become museum exhibits.

        • Offgridmanpolktn

          Just hoping that they don’t take as long as the dinosaurs to die out or lose their positions of power. 🙂
          Am doing my best to convince friends and family that no matter what the election the primary issue for right now is a belief in the general concensus of climate change, and a willingness to make the changes for the survival of the species and the planet.
          Hopefully the next two election cycles (’14 & ’16) will see the necessary changes.

        • Hans

          The problem is that they are taking the rest of us with them.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Actually, some of these folks are scientifically illiterate. They have shut their eyes and ears to any knowledge that disagrees with their flawed assumptions.

      They are elected by a coalition of ignorant, under educated people and the super-greedy.

    • No way

      Unfortunately this happens in too many parts of Europe too.

      • Ross

        Yes. If Cleantechnica covered Europe better this would be more apparent.

        • It’s not anti wind here on Cleantechnica. It’s basically news that’s essential for understanding the opposition to wind and solar. For us to not know what’s happening out there in politics would be bad. CT is doing a pretty good job laying the foundation, warts and all, for wind deployment. It’s not like Europe doesn’t have the same political problems with energy policy as the US does.

          Cleantechnica had a great podcast with the dude from ABB North America. I’m too lazy to link it. The post was last Saturday. Here’s a guy from a European Company with business interests in wind being successful. He also discusses much of the political problems and how they are impacting his business from being even more successful.

          About nativism and regionalism. Read a bunch of blogs.

          • Ross

            I mean there’s a lot of anti-wind sentiment in Europe, not that Cleantechnica is anti-wind.

        • Good point. It’s a hard call. Policy & politics pieces don’t typically do as well for us anyway, and the EU ones seem especially really wonky. At the same time, this is the stuff that’s really important for the masses to read, not scientific incrementalism or even breakthroughs.

          For the most part, though, are focusing on the consumer tech that we want to inspire more people to use.

          As an inherently political person, though, I wish we had more policy/politics stuff on the site… 😀

          • Ross

            Yes, agree about the EU debate being wonky. I don’t think the opposition is as identified with one political party.

  • Here’s my guess why Idaho did this. There’s probably about 10 better and possibly more correct reasons. The EPA power plant emissions proposal is based on state specific carbon intensities (mass of carbon dioxide per MWh of generation). Idaho was presented with a really low starting point from which to reduce from. Basically Idaho is chiefly hydro over fossil fuels. They did this out of spite or they hope the starting point is sufficiently put into the future to allow them to jack up the baseline carbon intensity by bringing coal and gas into the mix.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Idaho gets about 25% of its electricity from non-hydro renewables and about 75% from hydro. A tiny bit from NG.

      Idaho has some good wind resources (map below). A smart move for Idaho, I would think, would be to install more wind, cut back on their own hydro use, and sell hydro power out of the state when other states are buying.

      Hydro is incredibly competitive with NG peakers and stored electricity. It wouldn’t take a lot to hook into the HVDC loop being created near to them. That would give them access to the entire West Coast market, from Utah to the beach.

      • There you go again Bob, making sense. People have the right to remain stupid (which, apparently, can’t be fixed) and I usually let them be.
        However, when their idiocy threatens the lives of our children and grandchildren I take offense. I wish that the right idiot Mike Simpson and his ilk would crawl back under the rock (which is smarter than they are) from which they obviously came and leave the rest of us to make the decisions on energy and the environment.

      • juxx0r

        Damn straight Bob. Same for every location that has lots of hydro. This is such a no brainer, that clearly they have no brains to propose anything else as an alternative.

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