Clean Energy Hit By GOP House Sledgehammer

The GOP controlled U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has just released information about the Energy and Water appropriations bill for the fiscal year of 2012. After a review of the budget figures contained in the bill, it appears to be a much lighter shade of “green” than it was last year and, in fact,  a much lighter shade than President Obama would like to see.

The legislation determines the funds that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will receive and, to a degree, stipulates how it will and won’t be spent amongst its various agencies like the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as well as DOE programs like ARPA-E, the loan guarantee program and renewable energy and efficiency.  The committee stated that the bill released totals $30.6 billion – a cut of $5.9 billion below the President’s request and $1 billion below last year. According to the statement, these figures  scale the total cost of the bill back to near 2006 levels.

image via Georgetown University

Some of DOE programs that stand to suffer the deepest cuts include energy efficiency and renewable energy, which is down by $491 million compared to last year and over $1.8 billion less than the President requested; science research programs, down $42.6 million and $616 million less than requested; and the ARPA-E program, down $79.6 million over last year and $450 million less than requested.

Meanwhile, nuclear energy programs would get $7.8 million more than last year and fossil fuel energy R&D would see an additional $32.4 million.

Some of the changes made by the appropriations committee were clearly implemented in stark opposition to some of the Obama administration’s recent efforts. For instance, in the statement, the committee writes “the bill rejects the Administration’s wasteful, partisan attempts to shutter the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository program and provides $35 million to support Yucca Mountain activities, including $10 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue their review of the license application. The bill also includes provisions to forbid the use of funds to close down the program.”

So, it would seem that partisan politics may not be working entirely  in the DOE’s favor where next year’s budget is concerned. That said, there are still substantial funds appropriated for clean energy efforts in this legislation. To view a table that compares the 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill with last year’s level and the President’s request, click here for the .pdf.