Simpson Examines Budget for Energy Programs
Washington, March 25, 2014
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today held his first two hearings as Chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss budget issues with officials from the Department of Energy.
The first hearing was focused on the Department of Energy’s Applied Energy Programs, with Assistant Secretaries from the Offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, and Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability testifying. The second hearing was focused on the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, with Acting Director Dr. Patricia Dehmer testifying.
In the first hearing, Simpson discussed recent announcements regarding the Small Modular Reactor program, the Department’s emergency response capability related to extreme events that affect the electricity grid, and funding for Safeguards and Security at the Idaho National Lab. He also noted that the Obama Administration has once again proposed a significant increase for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy while proposing to reduce Fossil Energy and Nuclear Energy.
“Your programs account for more than $3.8 billion of the Department’s budget request for fiscal year 2015. I must note that while the request is more balanced than last year, the two accounts—Nuclear and Fossil—which Congress increased last year received reductions,” said Simpson. “To the extent that the President is serious about an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, I would hope that this is the last year we see this imbalance in the request.”
In the Office of Science hearing, Simpson talked about working towards scientific breakthroughs with a flat budget, transitioning away from awarding multi-year grants that “mortgage” future year appropriations, and practical examples of how investments in science programs are a good use of taxpayer dollars.
“Your program has, of course, generally received broad bipartisan support,” said Simpson. “However, as budgets continue to be constrained, you and your colleagues will have to work even harder to find ways to illustrate the importance of your programs as they compete with others for funding.”
After the hearings, Simpson said, “Our budget situation will require us to make difficult decisions. I am mindful of the importance that these programs hold not just for American industrial competitiveness, but also for the comfort, safety, and well-being of all of our constituents. But we need to set careful priorities and do more with the limited resources available, and always remain mindful of what the role of the private sector is or should be in making these investments.”