US House spending bill would cut DOE renewables, boost nuclear
Washington (Platts)--25Apr2012/448 pm EDT/2048 GMT
The US House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed on to the full
chamber a Department of Energy spending bill that would cut $345 million from
the agency's fiscal 2013 budget, providing it with $26.1 billion, and would
shift emphasis from renewable energy and energy efficiency to fossil fuels
and nuclear power.
"While the decisions involved were difficult ... I am proud that this
committee will be the tip of the spear in helping to restore sustainability
to the agency budgets within this bill," said Representative Hal Rogers, the
committee chairman and a Kentucky Republican.
The committee passed the energy and water appropriations bill in a voice
vote. The bill must still be taken up by the full House. No votes in the full
chamber are planned, but few in Washington believe Congress will pass any
annual appropriations bills before the presidential election in November.
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In his budget request to Congress in February, Obama moved to cut about
$88 million from spending on nuclear power research and development, a 10%
cut, and about $105 million from the fossil energy R&D, primarily from
But the House Appropriations committee aims to make up for those
declines by refusing the Obama request and funding nuclear power at 2012
levels, instead providing flat funding for DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy at
Republicans on the committee also said the bill would help bring down
gasoline prices in the long run and that they have devoted $1.1 billion in
their proposal for the effort.
Among other things, this includes $25 million for a new shale oil
research program, $34 million for other fossil energy research aimed at
increasing domestic oil supplies, $500 million for applied advanced biofuels
research and $195 million for electric vehicle research. While these total
about $36 million above what Congress gave DOE in 2012, they are about $92
million less than what Obama requested.
DOE'S EERE WOULD SEE 17% CUT
DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which funds
applied research and development of wind, solar, energy efficiency and other
energy technologies, has long been a target of congressional Republicans and
this funding proposal illustrated that.
The committee bill would cut EERE funding for fiscal 2013 by about 17%
from fiscal 2012 levels to $1.5 billion. Obama had requested an almost 30%
increase to $2.3 billion for 2013.
While senior Democrats on the committee praised funding for nuclear and
fossil fuel, they also said that EERE should get more funding.
"I appreciate the chairman's decision to include appropriate funding for
fossil and nuclear energy. However, I am disappointed the renewable energy
programs in this bill are drastically reduced," said Representative Peter
Visclosky, the senior Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that
oversees DOE's budget.
"In providing critical research and development for those sectors that
currently provide the bulk of our electricity generation, we cannot sacrifice
the future," he said. "Renewable energy can achieve cost competitiveness, but
a continued and sustained research and development program is necessary and
appropriate in order to do so."
BILL ALLOTS $25 MIL FOR YUCCA MOUNTAIN
Republicans and Democrats on the committee did agree that the Obama
administration's decision to terminate the long-planned Yucca Mountain
nuclear waste repository in Nevada was misguided and "counter to the law."
The committee bill attempts to fix that by providing DOE with $25 million to
work on a solution to storing commercial nuclear waste, but only if it is
directed at Yucca Mountain. Also, the bill would bar DOE from spending any
funds to eliminate the option of Yucca Mountain as a waste site.
Those measures could face opposition in the Senate, however, where
Senator Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat and majority leader, has vowed the
Yucca Mountain repository will never be built.
In fact, an appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations
Energy and Water Development Subcommittee on Tuesday provided no funds for
Yucca Mountain. It did, however, include a provision that would create a DOE
pilot program for siting and developing an interim consolidated storage site
for commercial spent nuclear waste.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to take up its own version of
the energy and water development appropriations bill on Thursday. That bill
would provide DOE with $27.1 billion in 2013, an increase of $1.38 billion
above fiscal 2012. That is $1 billion above the $26.1 billion provided by the
--Derek Sands, email@example.com