The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the FY2013 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5325) this afternoon, which includes the budget of critical clean energy innovation programs within the Department of Energy (DOE). The bill, which was passed by the House Appropriations Committee on April 25, cuts clean energy innovation investment deeply compared to the FY2012 Omnibus and the FY2013 Presidential Request. Specifically, compared to FY2012 levels, the bill cuts funding for DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) by 27 percent; the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs by 24 percent; and the Office of Electricity and Energy Reliability (OE) by 12 percent. In relation to the FY2013 Presidential Request these cuts look even more significant – 43 percent reduction of ARPA-E funding, 41 percent reduction of EERE funding, and 14 percent reduction to OE funding. However, many members of Congress are seeking even deeper cuts to these programs.
Among several amendments under consideration by the House is one proposed by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), which would cut all renewable energy-related innovation programs by 24 percent (H.AMDT.1217). While the amendment exempts reductions to the Army Corps of Engineers account, the Non-Defense Environmental Clean-up account, the Nuclear Waste Disposal account, the National Nuclear Security Administration account, and DOE’s nuclear programs, the amendment would deal a hard blow to the rest of DOE’s key energy innovation programs, including fossil fuel R&D.
As shown in the figure below, compared with FY2012 levels, the Mulvaney amendment would result in cuts to ARPA-E’s funding by over 45 percent and EERE’s program funding by 43 percent. Similarly, in relation to the FY2013 request, ARPA-E funding would decrease by over 56 percent, and EERE programs would be cut by 55 percent. These renewable energy programs, which were strengthened by investments made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2010 and 2011, have been met with opposition from Republicans during budget decisions for the past two fiscal years. ARPA-E’s progress towards meeting its short- and long-term goals of reducing energy costs through investment in advanced technologies is particularly threatened by these dramatic funding cuts, which will inevitably restrict the young agency’s capabilities and America’s ability to address our major energy and climate challenges in general.