The U.S. House Appropriations Committee yesterday approved an energy and water funding bill that, as compared to fiscal year 2018, cuts energy efficiency and renewable energy (EERE) programs by $243 million, and increases research and development funding for fossil fuels by $58 million.
In a statement, the committee said EERE programs have “already received significant investments in recent years.”
Chairman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) called the bill “well-balanced,” saying it supports infrastructure projects and strategic research and development “that will increase U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.”
The bill also cuts the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program by about $28 million.
Rob Cowin, director of climate and energy government affiars for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement that the House committee is missing the opportunity to advance clean energy in the U.S.
“By reducing support for these kinds of programs, the U.S. is ceding leadership on clean energy and technological innovation to countries like China, which is investing in these technologies,” Cowin said. “You would think U.S. lawmakers would want to promote economic growth by capitalizing on the expanding global market for clean energy technologies.”
According to Cowin, the bill increases funding for energy storage funding over 2018 by $10 million.
“Energy storage systems can enable excess wind and solar energy to be stored for later use at times when the sun is not shining, and the wind is not blowing—making them more competitive with fossil fuel-based energy sources,” Cowin said. “In an unusual step, the committee noted and rejected the administration’s extreme approach, which dictated the [U.S. Department of Energy] focus solely on early stage, non-applied research. The committee was smart to recognize the need for applied research and development of emerging technologies throughout the energy innovation ecosystem.”
Cowin said he hopes that, when Senate appropriators take up the bill next week, they recognize both the value of energy storage and the Department of Energy’s other clean energy programs.
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