Panel aims to ‘refocus’ State Energy Program that Trump wants to kill

Source: Sam Mintz, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, June 12, 2017

House lawmakers this week will discuss how to “refocus” a Department of Energy program that the Trump administration has slated for elimination.

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy is holding a hearing Wednesday to look at the State Energy Program, which was authorized in 1975 and provides federal and technical assistance to states. In recent years, it has been funded for about $50 million in the federal budget.

According to a press release, the committee’s Republican leadership thinks the program’s current purpose and scope — focusing on energy conservation, energy assurance planning and technology development — are insufficient to “fully address today’s evolving energy landscape.” Lawmakers will look at ways to refocus the program toward the mission of energy security.

“Our grid has changed immensely since the EPCA’s implementation in 1975 but so too have the threats and vulnerabilities. Cyberattacks and other emerging vulnerabilities could disrupt the operation of technology critical to reliability of our critical electrical infrastructure,” subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement.

The panel, he said, will look at what can be done by the federal government to “address energy assurance planning, energy infrastructure protection, and cybersecurity preparedness.”

While the release does not mention the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts, they will likely come up at the hearing.

The State Energy Program, along with other programs in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, such as the Weatherization Assistance Program, has been defended by activists, states and members of Congress, including some Republicans (E&E Daily, May 4).

Upton, though, has in the past called for freezing the weatherization program and Energy Star, the energy efficiency labeling program that has also been targeted for elimination by Trump.

Schedule: The hearing is Wednesday, June 14, at 10 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn.

Witnesses: TBA.