The legislation in question is the Energy and Water appropriations bill, which is the fifth of twelve spending bills the House must pass to establish the discretionary budget for 2014. Sequestration — the across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect earlier this year — set a top-line level of $967 billion for that spending. But Republicans are attempting to ease the cuts to the military by slicing even deeper into other programs. That led to a party-line vote in the committee to cut renewable investments in the bill by $911 million from their level in 2013.
The White House objects to both the GOP’s desire to bulk up defense spending at the expense of other priorities, as well as the sequestration levels themselves, so it’s threatened to veto the bills. Nevertheless, Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said he’s happy with the committee’s work. “The end product is a good bill and one that I heartily endorse,” Rogers declared — never mind that a year ago, the Appropriations Committee wanted $700 million more for renewables, as ranking minority member Nita Lowey (D-NY) pointed out.
Rogers’ claim that the bill protects “our national defense” and invests “in the infrastructure that is the foundation of a thriving American economy and critical to the safety of our people,” is also a bit odd. The United States military is on the record that climate change is a major national security threat, and is making a bigger push toward adopting renewable energy that virtually any single other actor in the U.S. market. The International Energy Agency also just concluded that renewable power will make up a quarter of the world’s energy mix by 2018, suggesting renewable energy is a critical part of a thriving American economy by any reasonable definition of the terms.
To add insult to injury, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a bill on Friday that would require the Obama Administration to open up more offshore leases to oil and gas drilling. Despite the fact that the fossil fuel industry is already sitting on thousands of leases it isn’t bothering to exploit, 16 Democrats joined Republicans in calling for even more coastal waters to be handed over.