Even as President Obama offers Congress a budget that would cut into dozens of government programs and trim $1.1 trillion from the federal deficit over the next decade, he will request robust increases in clean-energy spending.
In total, he will ask for about $8 billion in spending on clean-energy programs across all federal agencies.
That will set up a clash with congressional Republicans, who have put clean-energy and environmental-regulation programs first on the chopping block.
The president’s budget request increases total DOE spending by 11.8 percent over the level appropriated for FY 2010, to a total of $29.5 billion. Of that, $11.8 billion would be budgeted to the nuclear weapons and nonproliferation missions of the agency, another $6.3 billion would be devoted to environmental cleanup and radioactive waste management, $5.9 billion would go to basic science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), $291 million would go to support innovative and advanced energy technology credit programs, and $4.8 billion would go to energy supply and energy efficiency programs.
“To lead in the global clean energy economy, we must mobilize America’s innovation machine in order to bring technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace,” reads the Energy Department’s budget request. “The Department of Energy is on the front lines of this effort. To succeed, the Department will pursue game-changing breakthroughs, invest in innovative technologies, and demonstrate commercially viable solutions.”
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., applauded the president’s request.
“This budget request is the third consecutive time that the president has demonstrated his commitment to energy security, U.S. technological competitiveness and nuclear weapons security imperatives, despite the tough fiscal environment we find ourselves in,” Bingaman said. “It merits vigorous support from anyone who cares deeply about securing our nation’s energy future, boosting our economic growth and competitiveness in the world and combating nuclear weapons proliferation.”
To help pay for the new energy spending, Obama proposes rolling back $46.2 billion in tax breaks for the oil and gas industry over the next 10 years.
In both the spending and the rollbacks, the White House should face fierce pushback from House Republicans, who deem existing clean-energy expenditures unnecessary subsidies while defending tax breaks for the fossil-fuel industry as essential for maintaining low-cost traditional sources.