Reshaping the Department of Energy: Authorization Bill Advances

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Publication date: 
9 June 1995

Important legislation was drafted yesterday which could reshape the
research portfolio of the Department of Energy.  The House
Subcommittee on Energy and Environment marked-up the "Department of
Energy Civilian Research and Development Act of 1995," which will
guide DOE in FY 1996.

At a June 8 pre-hearing briefing, subcommittee chairman Dana
Rohrabacher (R-CA) said, "Our budget figures represent the
commitment made to the American people to balance the budget within
seven years."  Funding for DOE programs under the subcommittee's
jurisdiction would be cut $1.361 billion from current year funding,
or $1.709 billion less than the administration's FY 1996 budget

This authorization bill does not provide actual DOE funding, which
will be contained in the FY 1996 Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Bill.  Republican leaders want to use authorization
bills to set policy and spending ceilings, which the appropriations
committee should then follow.  Chairman John Myers' (R-IN)
subcommittee will mark up their appropriations bill on June 13.

The subcommittee calculates that under this bill, Basic Energy
Sciences funding would increase 12% or $80 million from $663
million in FY 1995 to a maximum of $743 million in FY 1996.
General Science and Research funding would decline 3% or $27
million from $796 million in FY 1995 to a maximum of $769 million
in FY 1996. Biological and Environmental Research funding would
decline 17% or $64 million from $366 million in FY 1995 to a
maximum of $302 million in FY 1996.

So where does the proposed $1.361 billion in savings come from?
More than 55% results from dramatic cuts in what Rohrabacher termed
"corporate welfare."  He identified large corporations receiving
DOE funding, and said, "At a time of limited revenue, the private
sector, especially big corporations, should not expect their
research to be subsidized by the taxpayers." An additional 12%
comes from "streamlining bureaucracy."  The remaining 33% comes
from reduced funding for "non mission related programs."
Rohrabacher took aim at what he called "trendy science that is
propped up by liberal/left politics rather than good science,"
singling out for special criticism global warming.  Regarding this
he said, "it is assumed at best to be unproven and at worst to be
liberal clap trap...."

Rohrabacher concluded his briefing with the following statement:
"Our goal in this budget is to get BACK TO THE BASICS, funding
essential productive scientific research which cannot be done
elsewhere in the private sector, research that will produce quality
scientific results in order to improve our lives today, and future
generations.  And notwithstanding the liberal doomsayers who will
scream and carry on at the death of their nonsensical programs, we
have achieved our goal.  This budget meets our commitment to a
balanced budget while aggressively funding fundamental basic
scientific research."

FYIs #79 and #80 will report on the mark up hearing and the bill's

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