Democratic News

BINGAMAN: New DOE Budget Strongly Supports Energy Security,
Long-Term Technology Competitiveness and International Nuclear Nonproliferation
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) strongly supported the increases proposed for Department of Energy (DOE) programs in the President’s Budget Request for FY 2012 today, which are being proposed against a backdrop of substantial deficit reduction government-wide in the same Budget Request.
Bingaman is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has principal responsibility for the DOE.  Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will testify on DOE’s budget before the Committee this Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  This will be the DOE’s first budget hearing before Congress this year.
“This budget request is the third consecutive time that the President has demonstrated his commitment to energy security, U.S. technological competitiveness and nuclear weapons security imperatives, despite the tough fiscal environment we find ourselves in,” Bingaman said.  “It merits vigorous support from anyone who cares deeply about securing our nation’s energy future, boosting our economic growth and competitiveness in the world and combating nuclear weapons proliferation.”
The President’s budget request would increase total DOE spending by 11.8 percent over the level appropriated for FY 2010, to a total of $29.5 billion.  Of this total, $11.8 billion would be budgeted to the nuclear weapons and nonproliferation missions of the Department, another $6.3 billion would be devoted to environmental cleanup and radioactive waste management, $5.9 billion would go to basic science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), $291 million would go to support innovative and advanced energy technology credit programs, and $4.8 billion would go to energy supply and energy efficiency programs.
“We are about to debate two very different visions of our energy and economic security future in Congress,” Bingaman noted.  “The President’s vision is to combine cuts and efficiencies in existing Federal programs with investments in other areas, like energy, that are key to our future.  The other proposal is simply to pick an arbitrary past spending level and to terminate any investments that happen to be above that level.  The President’s approach reflects what having a national energy policy really means.  It is about making thoughtful and forward-leaning choices, and I strongly support it.”
Highlights of increased investments in the Budget Request for DOE include:

--> A $450 million increase in funding for basic energy science research.  This funding will create three new Energy Innovation Hubs to focus on batteries, critical materials and Smart Grid technologies; position the United States in the lead for the next-generation of high-performance supercomputing; and provide significant increases to help understand the basic physical phenomena that new energy technologies will be based upon.

--> A strong follow-through on the promise of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), with over $550 million of new funding proposed for transformational, high-risk, high-payoff energy technology projects.  This funding will build on the $389 million initially provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to jump-start ARPA-E.

--> Major increases in technology funding for solar energy (up 88 percent), wind energy (up 61 percent), geothermal energy (up 135 percent) and biomass energy (up 58 percent).

-->A revitalized nuclear energy research and development effort, supporting a diverse new set of nuclear rea ctor concepts and enabling technologies at a combined level of nearly $450 million.  The President’s request includes in this program $67 million to advance small modular reactor concepts similar to those proposed in bipartisan bills supported in the Committee in the last Congress.

--> Strong increases for energy storage and Smart Grid electricity transmission technologies, with over $69 million of new and increased funding proposed.

--> New funding to expand the DOE Loan Guarantee Program, with $200 million proposed to subsidize new loans, which DOE believes could translate to as much as $2 billion in additional loan volume for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.  Another $100 million is requested to support loans for energy efficiency renovations of universities, schools, and hospitals, which DOE estimates will support an additional $2 billion loan portfolio.  In addition to this, an additional $36 billion in loan guarantee authority is requested for “self-pay” loan guarantees for nuclear power projects.

Finally, although the defense programs of the DOE are annually authorized through the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the new DOE budget request is notable for continuing the emphasis of previous requests by President Obama for nuclear nonproliferation efforts. “Nuclear proliferation worldwide is one of our gravest security challenges and President Obama has given a high priority to preventing it.  His request for additional funds in this area deserves broad support.  I am frankly worried, though, that the budget cuts being contemplated elsewhere in Congress will significantly delay vital programs in this area and adversely affect our ability to respond to an international nuclear or radiological event,” Bingaman said.
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