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Simpson Examines Budget for Energy Programs

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Washington, March 17, 2015 | comments

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, Chairman of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, today held two hearings 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.  Dr. Franklin Orr, Under Secretary for Science and Energy testified at both hearings.

In the first hearing, Simpson discussed the Nuclear Energy University Program and the importance of ensuring a strong future nuclear workforce, the Idaho National Lab’s Advanced Test Reactor’s maintenance and upgrade needs, 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.

“I agree that an ‘all of the above’ approach should fund research in new energy sources, but we also need to ensure we are efficiently and effectively using our existing sources,” said Simpson.  “Last year, Fossil and Nuclear energy sources provided about 85 percent of all the electricity produced in this country. Just increasing the production efficiency by one percent of any fossil or nuclear fuel source would have a tremendous effect on net electricity generation. A true ‘all of the above’ approach would not make these sources the lowest priorities of the Department of Energy.”

In the Office of Science hearing, Simpson talked about working towards scientific breakthroughs with a flat budget, project management at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, and practical examples of how investments in science programs are a good use of taxpayer dollars. 

“The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the United States, and its activities have resulted in some of the most important scientific breakthroughs of the twentieth century,” said Simpson.  “Today we’re focusing quite a bit on the challenges to your office within a limited budget, but it’s important to remember the remarkable work supported by the Office of Science that happens day in and day out, both at the national labs and at American universities and other institutions that receive grants.”

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.”

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Tags: Energy

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