Congress will send even more taxpayer dollars to dirty energy interests these next two years, but it won’t stop the relentless march of clean energy.
The big nuclear news in the omnibus federal budget bill currently before Congress is that the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project receives no new funding for 2015–much to the chagrin of some in the nuclear industry and its Washington backers.
Small victories do matter, and that is indeed a victory. Although given the makeup of the incoming Congress, the next budget could well include a ton of taxpayer dollars directed once again at that failed endeavor. Congress has never been too concerned with the concept of “good money after bad.”
A closer look at the energy budget reveals a case of misplaced priorities all around.
Overall, the area of purview of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee–which includes energy, nuclear weapons, Interior Department and other agencies and issues–receives a total of $34.2 Billion. That includes a very modest increase from last year of $142 million. Not that the increase is being spent on anything useful.
Energy programs themselves get only $10.2 Billion, a $22 million increase. But take a look at how the money is being spent:
*$571 million for research and development to advance coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy technologies – an increase of $8.9 million (1.5%) above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $95.5 million (20%) above the President’s request – to help the country make better use of our domestic resources and reduce energy costs;
*$914 million for nuclear energy research and development, an increase of $24 million (2.7%) above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $50 million (5.8%) above the President’s request, to further the next generation of nuclear power while ensuring the safety and longevity of our current plants;
*$1.9 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs – placing priority on advanced manufacturing and weatherization assistance. This funding is targeted to effective and proven programs, while holding the line on spending in other areas. This total is $380 million – or 16% – below the President’s request.
President Obama has been trying to decrease funding for nuclear and fossil fuel programs, and raise funding for renewables and energy efficiency. The energy budget as it almost certainly will be passed by Congress turns that on its head–increasing taxpayer dollars for fossil fuels and nuclear and cutting back on clean energy.
There is some chance, the Washington rumor mill says, that the budget bill won’t pass this week. If that happens, a government shutdown probably will be avoided with a continuing resolution and the larger budget issues will carry over until next year. But, if the omnibus budget bill doesn’t pass, it won’t be because of energy issues. What’s stated here is how it will be.
And this is with the Democrats still in charge in the Senate.
As they say, wait til next year. It will get worse.
In other words, don’t look–for the next two years anyway–to the federal level for support for clean energy; the Republicans (as always, with some Democratic support) are going to double down on boosting nuclear and fossil fuels while they can. They know they may not still be in power after the 2016 election so they’re going to do as much damage as they can while they do have the power. And there won’t be much President Obama can do to stop them. He’s not, after all, in a position to veto a bill that keeps the government open over a shift in energy priorities.
Even misplaced priorities.
If we’re going to make progress on clean energy issues and on dealing with the climate crisis these next two years–and we can–it will be in the states. And, even more crucially than federal and state budgets, progress will occur because of the relentless march of clean energy innovation and cost reduction. Federal support could accelerate that march; but misdirecting taxpayer dollars won’t prevent the advances occurring every day. Existing state-level policies to encourage clean energy deployment must be defended and expanded to more states. Efforts to gut those policies, and to implement new policies to support nuclear power and fossil fuel, must be effectively resisted. Those are the battle lines.
December 11, 2014
Your contributions make publication of GreenWorld possible. If you value GreenWorld, please make a tax-deductible donation here and ensure our continued publication. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size.
Comments are welcome on all GreenWorld posts! Say your piece above. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.
If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail, send your name and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it.
If you like GreenWorld, you can help us reach more people. Just use the icons below to “like” our posts and to share them on the various social networking sites you use. And if you don’t like GreenWorld, please let us know that too. Send an e-mail with your comments/complaints/compliments to email@example.com. Thank you!
GreenWorld is crossposted on tumblr at https://www.tumblr.com/blog/nirsnet
Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/12/11/misplaced-priorities/