Yesterday evening the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee approved by a voice vote its version of the FY 2009 funding bill for the Department of Energy. Details about this $33.3 billion bill will not be known until the full House Appropriations Committee considers the bill next Tuesday. As now written, the bill provides $2.4 billion more than this year's budget, and is $2.1 billion above that requested by President Bush.
Subcommittee Chairman Peter Visclosky's (D-IN) opening remarks at the mark up provides aggregate funding levels in this bill, and the subcommittee's rationale for its actions. Excerpts from Chairman Visclosky's remarks follow, with bolding used for emphasis on funding levels (not in the same order as spoken):
"The Fiscal Year 2009 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act provides an opportunity to address critical issues that affect our economic vitality, environment, and national security. The lack of a coherent energy policy in years past has led to record-high gas prices that hurt every American, to copious amounts of environmentally-destructive greenhouse gas emissions, and to dependence on foreign oil that puts our national security at risk. Similar failures to make adequate investments in infrastructure in years past have led to devastating floods and slowed our shipping network. The bill that is before us today addresses high fuel prices and climate change, sets us on a path toward energy independence, makes a major investment in critical infrastructure, advances our nonproliferation efforts, and supports funding to secure our nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile."
"The bill recommends over $4.86 billion for science, $140 million above the President’s request and an increase of $844 million over the fiscal year 2008 enacted level. Science funds cutting-edge energy research which will be critical for addressing our long-term energy needs. This bill substantially funds the increase in the Science account authorized in the America COMPETES Act. It will provide for 2,600 more research personnel, including graduate students, to address major concerns over the availability of highly educated scientists and engineers whose innovations drive economic growth. The Committee also makes major investments in laboratory infrastructure, embraces proposals to build two dozen Energy Frontier Research Centers focused on addressing critical energy research needs, and provides $539 million, $15 million above the President’s request, for climate change research and scientific computing efforts."
"The Committee’s recommendation for nuclear energy research and development represents a responsible approach to the nation’s use of nuclear power. The recommendation provides $200 million for demonstrating the GEN IV nuclear reactor technology, an increase of $130 million over the President’s request, but provides no funding for the Administration’s counterproductive, poorly designed, and poorly executed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Funding for the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative is $120 million, with $90 million funded through the Nuclear Energy Program and $30 million funded in the Office of Science."
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY:
"The fiscal year 2009 bill provides $2.52 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs, an increase of $1.26 billion over the budget request and $796.1 million over the fiscal year 2008 enacted level. The Committee provides $1.57 billion, an increase of $369 million over the President’s request, for renewable energy and conservation research and development activities and $318 million, an increase of $260 million, for existing federal energy assistance programs, including $250 million for Weatherization Assistance funding, which the Administration had zeroed-out."
NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAMS:
"The President’s request is long on weapons and short on nonproliferation. Compared to the previous year, the weapons request is up five percent while the nonproliferation request is down six percent. This request is not well focused on the threats we face in 2009 and beyond.
"The Energy and Water Development bill reduces Weapons Activities from the requested $6.6 billion to $6.2 billion. It increases Nuclear Nonproliferation from the requested $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion. I hope that the next Administration will better recognize the national security benefits of nuclear nonproliferation.
"Last year, the Administration proposed the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) as the first of a new generation of nuclear warheads. The Administration promotes the advantages of a new design offering better surety, better reliability, and lower yield, but RRW was offered in a vacuum and there was no new strategy behind it. There was no plan for what the weapons were to be used for, how many there were to be, or how they were to be made. So, Congress refused to fund the RRW.
"This year, the Committee again reiterates that before considering funding for most new programs, substantial changes to the existing nuclear weapons complex, or funding for RRW, the following sequence must be completed: First, replacement of the Cold War era strategies with a 21st Century nuclear deterrent strategy sharply focused on today’s and tomorrow’s threats that is capable of serving the national security needs of future Administrations and future Congresses without the need for nuclear testing; second, determination of the size and nature of the nuclear stockpile sufficient to serve that strategy; and finally, determination of the size and nature of the nuclear weapons complex needed to support that future stockpile. Of course, we need to be looking at all three at once, but the decisions have to flow in that order. With no such plan delivered, the fiscal year 2009 bill again denies all funding for RRW. There is no sense in expending the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars absent a clear plan for the complex.
"Our greatest threat is the use of a nuclear weapon, or nuclear material, in an act of terror. Because of this fact, the Committee recommends adding $283 million to the request for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, of which $237 million is for the critical areas of safeguards, material protection and removal, and de-enrichment. The recommendation also doubles the Administration’s request for nuclear weapon surety, since surety is our last line of defense against an adversary’s attempt to use our own weapons against us."
RANKING MEMBER DAVID HOBSON (R-OH):
"In closing, I would like to thank Mr. Hobson, the Ranking Member, for his years of leadership on this Subcommittee and in Congress, his stewardship of the programs in this bill and throughout the federal government, and his friendship and courtesy over the years. This is his last Energy and Water Development Subcommittee markup before he retires and I am happy to say that he will leave behind a great legacy. As Chairman, he stood up for what he thought was right, asserting the House’s position on energy policy and turning what was the de facto Water Development Subcommittee into the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee. He has also been a true believer in, and practitioner of, bipartisanship and the Subcommittee has operated collaboratively and effectively because of that. Thank you David for your many years of great work on this Subcommittee."