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Republicans Seek to Slash Funding for Clean Energy, Democrats Want to Shift Funds from Fossil Fuels to Renewables

By Stephen Lacey  

"Republicans Seek to Slash Funding for Clean Energy, Democrats Want to Shift Funds from Fossil Fuels to Renewables"

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The House is voting today on amendments to an energy and water-related appropriations bill, with Republican leaders proposing to cut billions of dollars in funds for renewable energy and Democrats attempting to shift funds from fossil energy research into clean energy.

Republican proposals include cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from renewable energy R&D programs. Amendments on the table include:

  • An amendment by Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga. to reduce funding provided for energy efficiency projects related to clean vehicle technology by $27 million.
  • An amendment by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., to reduce funding for energy efficiency programs related to new vehicle technology by $46 million.
  • An amendment by Rep. Scott Garrett, R-NJ, to reduce funding in the bill provided for energy related research and science by $500 million.
  • An amendment by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., to reduce funding in the bill provided for solar power research and development by $166 million.

Democratic amendments include increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy funding by moving funds from nuclear and fossil energy programs.

  • An amendment by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., to increase funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs by $100 million. The increase would be offset by reducing funding for nuclear energy and fossil fuel energy research by $50 million each.
  • An amendment by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., to increase funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs by $46 million. The increase would be offset by reducing funding for fossil fuel energy research by $99 million
  • An amendment by Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., to increase funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs by $24 million. The increase would be offset by reducing funding for fossil fuel energy and research by $50 million.

Before his amendment to cut $3 billion from energy research failed last night, California Republican Tom McClintock was quoted by The Hill as saying renewable energy technologies were “dubious” and that government programs are  “not funding the most viable research into these technologies….Private capital beats a path to the door of viable technology.”

In fact, private capital is beating a path toward clean energy technologies. The problem is, that path could start leading away from the U.S.

That “viability” is why JP Morgan has invested over $3 billion in renewable energy projects; why GE invested $6 billion in the sector last year alone; why Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Bank of America are building massive solar projects to supplement their energy-efficiency efforts; and why corporate heavyweights like Alstom, Areva, CH2M HILL, Google, Johnson Controls, Mitsubishi, and Siemens are building their cleantech businesses with fervor.

The outcome of today’s vote has major implications for America’s energy future. The debate over energy priorities in the House comes at a time when developing countries, led by China, have surpassed industrialized nations like the U.S. in clean energy investment.

If the U.S. drastically cuts R&D funding and fails to extend federal tax credits by the end of this year, many of the largest private companies investing in clean energy will have plenty of other leading countries in which to do business.

Update: Amendments from Markey and McClintock both failed.

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