(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology held a hearing to discuss the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget request for energy research and technology development programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) with Secretary Steven Chu.
The FY 2011 budget request for the DOE is $28.4 billion, which represents a $1.8 billion or 6.8 percent increase over FY 2010. Approximately one-third of the total budget is allocated for civilian energy research and technology development programs within the Science and Technology Committee’s jurisdiction.
“It has been an exciting and historic year for the Department of Energy. The 2009 Recovery Act provided DOE with almost $40 billion to jumpstart our green economy, and to lay a strong foundation for our country’s future through significant investments in research and development,” said Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “While this is a tremendous opportunity for the Secretary, it also presents an unprecedented challenge in ramping up programs that, at best, typically spend a fraction of that of that annually. I believe we entrusted the right person with this task, and that we will look back on this investment as the one that sowed the seeds of change for a new U.S. economy.”
“The Department of Energy and the ARPA-E program are paving the way for cutting edge, innovative energy technology. These high-risk, high-reward research projects are the future of energy in our nation,” said Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA). “I strongly support the increase for DOE in the president's FY 2011 budget request, as well as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The research and new technologies produced by DOE are critical to improving energy efficiency, which saves consumers money and significantly reduces energy.”
The FY 2011 budget request for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) is $299.9 million. ARPA-E was authorized in the 2007 America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) to pursue high-risk, high-reward energy technology development. The agency was established in 2009 with $15 million from the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 and $400 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
This will be the first year that ARPA-E receives full operational funding through the annual appropriations process. Chairman Gordon, in his testimony to Subcommittee on Energy and Water House Committee on Appropriations in April of 2009, requested that the Subcommittee include language in the report to clarify “that the $400 million provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is what is required for this new program to become fully operational and attain the goals Congress has laid out for it in Fiscal Year 2010, and that the decision not to include additional funds for Fiscal Year 2010 does not suggest a lack of commitment to this new program by the Committee.”
"I am happy to see the Administration’s request of $300 million for ARPA-E in FY 2011, and I believe ARPA-E is moving fast enough to justify an even larger investment in the very near future,” said Gordon. “But it appears to be an appropriate, well-justified amount to build on the successes we’re seeing today.”
Office of Science
The FY 2011 budget request for the DOE Office of Science is $5.1 billion. This represents an increase of $218 million or 4.4 percent over the FY 2010 enacted level of funding. Continuing the Office of Science on the doubling path set forth in the America COMPETES Act is a priority for the Committee.
“I am pleased with the request for the DOE Office of Science, which—along with the Administration’s requests for NSF and NIST—continues this agency on a doubling path as recommended by the National Academies’ Rising Above The Gathering Storm report to keep America competitive well into the future,” said Gordon.
The budget request calls for $503 million for the Office of Nuclear Energy research and development, representing an increase of $37 million over the FY 2010 enacted funding level. The request cuts funding for Yucca Mountain, which has been the proposed site of the nation’s permanent nuclear waste repository from 1987 until present. The president also recently announced the creation of a bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission to offer recommendations on a path forward for long-term management of used nuclear fuel.
“Given the recent assessments by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Academies that a major repository isn’t needed anytime soon – and may never be needed – I’m most interested in where we go from here,” said Gordon. “I understand that the Department will also be releasing a nuclear energy R&D plan in the near future, and we look forward to reviewing it as soon as possible. We expect this plan to be an important reference as we craft a comprehensive nuclear energy research and development bill this year.”
This was the third in a series of hearings the Committee is holding to examine the Administration’s budget request. The Committee held hearings with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. John P. Holdren on February 24th and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. on February 25th. On March 10th, the Subcommittee on Research & Science Education will hold a hearing to examine the National Science Foundation’s FY 2011 Budget Request, and the Full Committee will hold a hearing
to examine Fiscal Year 2011 Research and Development Budget Proposals at EPA and NOAA.
For more information, please visit the Committee’s website.