Democratic News

“Today, we have an oversight hearing to examine the President’s proposed Department of Energy budget for Fiscal Year 2013.  We welcome Secretary Chu to testify and present the Administration’s budget to us today.

“The priorities laid out in the President’s proposed budget reflect a strong commitment to clean energy and the increased security and economic benefits that made-in-America energy can achieve for us, through American innovation as well as manufacturing.

“In an overall Budget Request that seeks to provide substantial, government-wide deficit reduction, I’m pleased to see that we have a proposed 3.2 percent increase in the Department of Energy budget.  It is an investment in our nation’s energy future that will boost our economic growth and global competitiveness, protect the environment and allow the U.S. to continue important nuclear non-proliferation work.

“Informed by the Quadrennial Technology Review, which we had a hearing on a couple months ago, the Department of Energy’s Budget Request cuts funding in mature technology areas and provides increased resources for the most promising clean energy innovations.  This is an important step toward a national energy policy that invests in critical energy priorities within a framework of a sustainable fiscal policy.

“The Department of Energy’s budget before the committee today supports a range of cutting-edge technologies that will enable us to lead in the global race for clean energy.  Increased investment in high-performance computing and basic science will increase understanding and spur new energy technology development.  Continued investments in ARPA-E will support high-risk transformational energy projects, helping them to mature and attract non-governmental funding.  Support for solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy will further develop our portfolio of available energy sources and enable a transition to cleaner technologies.  And, meanwhile, funding for research on carbon capture and sequestration, methane gas hydrates and minimization of the impact of shale gas development will allow us to utilize fossil fuel resources in a responsible way. 

“This budget also provides funding to address critical grid modernization issues through a new Electricity Systems Innovation Hub and significant funding increases for advanced energy-efficient manufacturing.  This holds the promise of providing jobs for the future. 

“It’s important to recognize that the research and development programs that I’ve mentioned here cannot fully meet the challenges of bringing new energy technologies to the commercial marketplace.  The capital requirements to move promising technologies from the lab bench to pilot scale and, finally, to commercial scale are enormous. 

“Our overseas competitors have figured this out.  They are moving aggressively to gain an edge in clean energy technologies.  Much of our effort to support domestic players in this race has occurred through the Loan Guarantee Program – a proposal that Senator Domenici and I jointly made as part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act.  At its core, the Loan Guarantee Program is intended to allow the government in the case of new technology development and deployment to take on risks that the private investor cannot.  Mr. Herbert Allison has just published a useful report with some recommendations for managing the program going forward, and many of these are similar to approaches that Senator Murkowski and I have incorporated into the Clean Energy Deployment Administration legislation (CEDA) that we’ve reported from the Committee.  We’ll be having a hearing on this report by Mr. Allison when we return after this next week’s recess.  I’ll have a few questions for the Secretary about the Allison report and the state of the loan guarantee program when we get to questions.

“Again, Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming.  We look forward to your testimony.  Let me also just mention before calling on Senator Murkowski – I appreciate the technical assistance that your staff and the folks at the Energy Information Administration and in other parts of DOE have provided in helping us develop the proposal for a Clean Energy Standard that I hope we can introduce as legislation in a couple of weeks.  The modeling and analysis that has been done in your Department has been very helpful in helping us develop that bill."

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