House Dems back Obama’s bid for Mission Innovation funding

Source: Christa Marshall and Amanda Reilly, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Democrats are urging House appropriators to support the president’s budget request for renewable power and efficiency to ensure an “all of the above” energy strategy.

In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, 122 House members urged support for the $2.898 billion request for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which is more than $800 million above last year’s level.

The proposed funding surge is part of the administration’s Mission Innovation plan for doubling clean energy research and development funding within five years to address climate change.

The letter comes as Republicans unveiled a $1.07 trillion budget plan that suggests new funding for clean energy research should be led by the private sector (Greenwire, March 15).

“EERE plays a key role in advancing America’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, leading a large network of researchers and other partners to deliver innovative technologies,” says the letter to Reps. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). California Democrat Eric Swalwell spearheaded the letter.

“We must invest to remain competitive, or we risk falling behind,” the  letter adds. “By prioritizing funding for EERE, Congress will be signaling to our scientists and engineers at home and around the world that we are serious about rising to meet the growing demand for cheaper, more sustainable energy.”

In recent years, President Obama’s EERE budget request has been reduced during the appropriations process, typically out of a push for more fossil energy and nuclear funding. The enacted amount for fiscal 2016, for example, was about $700 million less than the administration’s previous proposal. In the Senate this year, there are also are concerns about a need for more funding for uranium cleanup in the DOE budget, although the effect on renewables and efficiency remains unclear (E&E Daily, March 10).

Major environmental groups today also urged members to support a budget alternative proposed by progressives in Congress.

In a letter to all members of the House, 16 organizations said the budget plan of the Congressional Progressive Caucus “reflects the urgency of the looming climate crisis.” The caucus’s proposal, released earlier this month, calls for setting a price on carbon and ending oil subsidies (Greenwire, March 3).

“We endorse the People’s Budget because it is responsible in human, environmental, and fiscal terms,” the groups said. “Now more than ever we need leadership to illustrate how we can make the changes needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Among the groups signing the letter:, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.