Obama Administration Comments on FY 2013 DOE Funding Bill

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Publication date: 
4 June 2012
Number: 
78

Late  last week the House of Representatives started its consideration of the FY 2013  Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.  It is expected that the final vote on passage  will occur later this week.

The  Office of Management and Budget released a three-page Statement of  Administration Policy   last week that both criticizes and praises provisions of H.R. 5325.  Selections from this statement follow  regarding the bill’s overall funding level, the Office of Science, the Advanced  Research Projects Agency – Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration,  and Yucca Mountain.

Funding  Level:

The  House of Representatives voted earlier this year to reduce total spending below  that in the budget deal that was reached last year that was the basis of the  Budget Control Act.  The Senate and  Administration have opposed this action, and the impasse will likely prevent  the final passage of any of the twelve appropriations bills until after this  November’s election.

In  commenting on this, OMB stated:

“Last  summer, the Congress and the President came to a bipartisan agreement to put  the Nation on a sustainable fiscal course in enacting the Budget Control Act of  2011 (BCA). The BCA created a framework for more than $2 trillion in deficit  reduction and provided tight spending caps that would bring discretionary  spending to a minimum level needed to preserve critical national priorities. .  . .”

“Taking  this into account, passing H.R. 5325 at its current funding level would mean  that when the Congress constructs other appropriations bills, it would  necessitate significant and harmful cuts to critical national priorities such  as education, research and development, job training, and health care.  Furthermore, this bill undermines key investments in clean energy and scientific  research and development, building blocks of our Nation's future economy.  Investing in these areas is critical to the Nation's economic growth, security,  and global competitiveness.”

Office  of Science:

The  Administration requested a 2.4 percent increase in the FY 2013 budget for the  Office of Science.  Senate appropriators  approved a 0.7 percent increase.  The  House bill would reduce funding by 1.5 percent.   Regarding the House bill, OMB commented:

“The  Administration strongly opposes the level of funding in the bill for the Office  of Science, which is $191 million below the FY 2013 Budget request and $73  million below the FY 2012 enacted level. The funding provided would hinder  important research underpinning U.S. innovation in clean energy technologies  and applications. The Office of Science also funds basic research across a  broad spectrum of physical, biological, and environmental sciences. Reductions  in support for these areas may lead to a loss of U.S. leadership in many areas  of science.”

Advanced  Research Projects Agency – Energy:

ARPA-E’s  current budget is $275.0 million.  The  Administration requested an increase to $350.0 million for FY 2013.  The Senate bill provides $312 million.  The House bill reduced the agency’s budget to  $200 million.  Commenting on this  reduction, OMB stated:

“The  Administration strongly opposes the reduction in funding for ARPA–E. The bill  provides $200 million for the program, which is $150 million below the FY 2013  Budget request and $75 million below the FY 2012 enacted level. ARPA–E funds  early stage, transformative energy technology research that industry, by  itself, is unlikely to support. Investments in ARPA–E are aimed at ensuring  that the Nation remains at the forefront of new energy technology development  to ensure the United States remains a lead competitor in this area.”

National  Nuclear Security Administration:

The  OMB statement takes a different approach regarding the NNSA.  The Administration requested a 4.9 percent  increase.  The Senate bill provides a 4.6  percent increase; the House bill a 2.5 percent increase.  OMB writes:

“The  Administration greatly appreciates the Committee's support for Presidential  initiatives to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and to maintain a robust  deterrent. This support will help continue efforts to secure nuclear materials  in four years, maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile through  stockpile stewardship and life extensions, recapitalize the aging  infrastructure of the nuclear enterprise, and develop a reactor for the Ohio  Class replacement submarine.”

Yucca  Mountain:

“The  Administration strongly opposes problematic policy and language riders  including, but not limited to, the following provisions in this bill,” the OMB  explains, including:        “Yucca  Mountain. Section 508 of the bill would prohibit using funds made available by  the bill for any actions related to the Administration's plan for Yucca  Mountain, such as closing the application process.”

The  Senate and House bills took different approaches   to the handling of domestic nuclear waste. 

 

The  Statement of Administration Policy also comments on the DOE Office of Energy  Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Energy Information Administration, the  Army Corps of Engineers, a Bureau of Reclamation project, the DOE  Weatherization Assistance Program, fossil-fuel generated energy consumption  reduction, and the Clean Water Act.

The  statement concludes: “The Administration looks forward to working with the  Congress as the FY 2013 appropriations process moves forward.”  However, at the outset, the statement  explains:

“The  Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5325, making  appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the  fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes. . . .  

“If  the President were presented with H.R. 5325, his senior advisors would  recommend that he veto the bill.”