SEEC: House GOP cutting American competitiveness, subsidizing yesterday's dirty energy industries

Jun 16, 2011 Issues: Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Water

WASHINGTON, DC - Today the House of Representatives Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) blasted Republican legislation that makes enormous cuts to Department of Energy (DOE) programs that support American innovation and economic competitiveness in growing clean energy industries.

Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee passed legislation to fund federal energy and water programs for fiscal year 2012 (FY12). The Republican-sponsored bill, which will be considered by the full House in the coming weeks, flies in the face of President Obama’s calls for increased investments in clean energy research, innovation, and manufacturing, which the 48 members of SEEC have argued create American jobs, reduce U.S. oil dependence, and decrease pollution. Instead, the legislation sharply decreases funding for clean energy programs, and increases spending for oil, coal, and natural gas. SEEC leaders, who have described the GOP energy agenda as an “all of the below plan to grow oil profits,” decried the draconian cuts, and reiterated their opposition to wasteful subsidies for large oil companies that cost American taxpayers nearly $4 billion per year, and which House Republicans have continuously voted to preserve.

 “Investments in clean energy are our best tool in creating jobs to help the American people,” said SEEC Co-Chair Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA). “The proposal to cut funding from important Department of Energy programs that support energy efficiency and renewables, and instead continuing subsidies for entrenched outdated and dirty energy industries, is a shortsighted approach and will only serve to hand American leadership in the clean energy economy to our foreign competitors.” 

“The Republican Energy and Water funding bill is another glaring example of the widening gap between Republican rhetoric and reality,” said SEEC Vice Chair Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). “The Republicans claim to support an ‘all of the above’ energy approach, yet this bill supports dirty oil and coal at the expense of clean energy research and financing, and key environmental protections. We need a new American energy policy that will lower prices for families, reduce our reliance on dirty, foreign energy and increase our energy independence.”

If passed into law, this legislation would slash nearly $500 million from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), providing it with just 40 percent of the funding President Obama requested for FY12. The bill also cuts $80 million from the previously-underfunded Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) that supports breakthrough domestic clean energy innovators; providing less than one-fifth of the funding President Obama requested for the agency for FY12. It also makes steep cuts to existing High Speed Rail funding, as well as DOE environmental cleanup programs, and to the Army Corps of Engineers. The bill also underhandedly prevents the Corps from engaging in Administration-wide efforts to protect clean water.  Nonetheless, the legislation increases funding for DOE’s Fossil Energy Office by $32 million.

 “Now is the worst possible moment to slash funding for the research and development of sustainable energy technologies.  At a time when our economy is already fragile, abandoning scientific research would cause the U.S. to lose even more high-tech jobs to our foreign competitors,” said SEEC Vice Chair Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).

SEEC Vice Chair Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) added that “the United States finished in third place in clean energy investments globally last year, behind China and Germany. We cannot cut our way to number one. The House Republican spending bill prioritizes antiquated, dirty energy. If we are to stay competitive as a nation in the long term, we must invest in new technologies, clean energy and job creation. This bill fails all three tests.” Tonko has introduced legislation to cut subsidies for Big Oil and reinvest federal resources in clean energy innovation and manufacturing.

Last month, House Republicans passed the first House appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012, which dealt with funding for the Department of Homeland Security. That legislation stripped $1.5 billion from the successful DOE Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which leverages private financing to support domestic manufacturing of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles that reduce oil demand and fuel costs. At a time of high unemployment in American manufacturing, and with consumers suffering daily from high gas prices stemming from U.S. oil dependence, many in SEEC expressed opposition to cutting funds from this important program.
 

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The Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) is a coalition of forty-eight Democratic members of the House of Representatives that was founded in January 2009 to be a focused, active, and effective coalition for advancing “policies that promote clean energy technology innovation and domestic manufacturing, develop renewable energy resources, and create green collar jobs throughout the product supply-chain, and polices to help arrest global warming and protect our nation’s clean air, water and natural environment.”  SEEC is co-chaired by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Steve Israel (D-NY). SEEC vice chairs are Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Paul Tonko (D-NY).