Obama Budget Pumps Up Clean Energy, FWIW

In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama said he wasn’t backing down on his commitment to clean energy, and that’s born out in the fiscal year 2013 budget the White House released today. The budget doesn’t shy away from spending on clean energy as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) budget grows 3.2 percent to $27.2 billion and spending on clean energy across government agencies rises by 13 percent to $6.7 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Of course, any detailing of the president’s budget comes with the caveat, “For what it’s worth.” That’s because everyone in Washington understands that with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a determined minority of Republicans in the Senate, whatever spending authorizations ultimately emerge are likely to be the result of election year brinkmanship that sees some programs spared and others jettisoned.

image via White House

So for what it’s worth: The administration wants to boost funding for ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, to $350 million. That’s a program devised under the Bush administration that didn’t get funded until the 2009 stimulus and has been fighting for money ever since. After Republican attempts to cut it significantly, it received $275 million for the current fiscal year.

That funding is in the DOE budget, as is $2.3 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) “to advance state-of-the-art clean energy technologies.” The EERE budget includes an 80 percent boost in funding for energy efficiency initiatives “that will improve America’s competitiveness and increase our energy productivity, saving consumers and businesses money,” according to the OMB.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.