Even though Republicans have vowed an "all-of-the-above" approach to America's energy future, Democrats are accusing them of clinging to a narrow, antiquated, hydrocarbon-heavy past.
Members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition are furious about a 2012 energy and water appropriations bill that they claim shortchanges President Obama's efforts at innovation and competition in favor of an addiction to oil, coal and natural gas.
The bill passed out of committee on a Republican majority 26-20 vote, and will hit the floor after the 4th of July. Here is what it would do:
On the energy front, this version of the bill snips $1.9 billion from the White House request for investments in energy efficiency research, renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal, fuel-conserving vehicles, weatherization, biomass and other programs. That's more than 40 percent below current funding levels.
It sets us back to 2005, at a time when the rest of the world is increasing investment in this area. But wait! That's not all! We get to increase funding for the fossil crowd, and take away money from research, too!
In addition, the legislation increases funding for DOE's Fossil Energy Office by $32 million while decreasing designated dollars for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) by $80 million. Energy Department Secretary Steven Chu modeled ARPA-E after a similar program at the Department of Defense to support breakthroughs by clean energy entrepreneurs.
It's a big, complicated bill that funds the DOE, and other agencies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers. Go read the entire story for the breakdown on the numbers. President Obama had requested a significant jump in funding for energy programs, and of course the Republicans are essentially saying "no" to that, and making cuts that will put us (further) behind in this race.
Krugman's words from right before the last election haunt me:
This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness.
Which makes 2012 all the more important.
Chances are this bill as written will not make it through the Senate, but you know that we won't be getting what we really need for funding, either. Hope we can get enough to get us through for now, and hope that the Democrats are smart enough to make this an issue next year.
Amongst other things. Seems there are so many to choose from lately.