Thursday, June 29, 2017

Half a Loaf:  Lawmakers Vote to Keep Some Energy Funds Trump Would Cut

The House subcommittee’s bill would still kill ARPA-E but restores some funding for science and renewable energy.

The House Appropriations energy subcommittee's markup on Wednesday was the first step in a long budget process in Congress. (Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images.) Click to Enlarge.
Budget writers in the House of Representatives said Wednesday they were willing to support some cuts to renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, but they wouldn't approve all of President Donald Trump's proposed deep slashes to the Department of Energy's budget.

The House Appropriations energy subcommittee met to mark up their bill for funding the department.  The bill represents the first time Congressional purse-string holders have formally clarified their priorities and is the first step in a long process, but it suggests that Republicans will support many of Trump's cuts to clean energy.

Trump's proposal, released last month, calls for cutting the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E—the government's incubator for clean energy technologies—by 93 percent.  The House spending bill allocates nothing.

The draft bill endorsed by the subcommittee sets the overall agency budget at $37.6 billion, giving it about $209 million less than in fiscal 2017, but $3.65 billion above Trump's request, according to Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the subcommittee's chairman.  The bill would have to be approved by the full Appropriations panel before going to the House floor and also would have to be reconciled with any action by the Senate.

"Increases over last year are targeted to those areas where they are needed most—-to provide for our nation's defense and to support our nation's infrastructure," Simpson said.  "The bill recognizes the administration's effort to reduce federal spending and the size of the government by accepting a number of the president's proposals including the request to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy."

Democratic members made their disapproval clear.

"This bill would drastically cut energy efficiency and renewable energy, reflecting the Republican majority's dismissal of the science and consequences of climate change," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the full Appropriations Committee.  "It would terminate ARPA-E even though it has successfully propelled American innovation, led to technological advances and created jobs."  ARPA-E's budget is about $300 million this fiscal year.

Read more at Half a Loaf:  Lawmakers Vote to Keep Some Energy Funds Trump Would Cut

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