House Committee Cuts Renewable Energy Farm Bill Program

On Friday, October 28, the House Agriculture Committee zeroed out funding for FY 07 for the popular Sec. 9006 Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Program and Sec. 6401 Value-Add Program, according to the non-partisan Environment and Energy Study Institute (FY 07 is the last year authorized under the current farm bill).

The Committee cut programs across the board, including conservation, nutrition, commodity, and rural development, as part of its deficit-cutting budget reconciliation package. The proposal by Committee Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) made $3.7 billion in cuts in the farm bill over the next five years, going well above the $3 billion in cuts required by the Congressional Budget Resolution. The package passed on a party line vote, with Rep. Johnson (R-IL) being the sole exception among republicans voting to eliminate the funding. “These cuts could not come at a worse time with energy prices hitting all time highs and farmers and other citizens reeling from high fuel, heating and power costs,” said a statement for EESI. “These programs have had strong bipartisan support in the past because they looked to the future and promoted innovation and home-grown clean energy alternatives.” This measure now goes to the House Budget Committee, which will next week combine the proposed cuts from other House committees into one large reconciliation bill. It is likely to come to the House floor for a vote the week of November 7. The House Agriculture Committee action is in stark contrast to the approach of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, which also made significant cuts but did so without touching the Renewable Energy Program (Sec. 9006) or the Value-Add Program (Sec. 6401) to garner the $3 billion in required cuts. After the House and Senate take their respective floor actions, the differences will have to be worked out in a joint conference committee — which will play an exceedingly pivotal role given the differences in the overall House and Senate approaches.
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