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Kaptur statement at hearing on Department of Energy 2018 budget request

June 21, 2017
Press Release

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I don’t know if I can be as brief, but I want to welcome the new secretary, someone who has experience as an appropriator himself and also a governor, former governor from a very important energy state.  You have a lot of experience, and we need it all.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman for yielding the time, and Secretary Perry for joining us today, in your very first hearing before this committee, which you will come to like. Congratulations on your confirmation.

 The budget request for the Department of Energy, while providing healthy increases of 9% to defense accounts, unfortunately, slashes the non-defense energy accounts by more than a third, of which science is cut by 17%.

To speak to the energy and science accounts for a moment, initial estimates are that this budget request, if enacted would result in the loss of approximately 7,000 highly skilled technical experts and job positions at the Department’s world class national labs. This is a big worry. This is a big class worry. Given that the labs have a multiplier effect on jobs in their communities somewhere in the range of 2-3, the total job loss would be in the range of 14,000 to 21,000 jobs.

In addition, initial estimates are that the reductions to just the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Science accounts, the sector inventing our future and of diversified energy production in this country, will result in some $2 billion less in federal support to universities and other research institutions, essential to nurturing America’s future scientific expertise. This is another world class worry.

The United States remains, despite recent efforts to reduce funding, a leader in innovation, but this budget, I fear, cedes that leadership to China and other nations in the Energy and Basic Science sectors. China has already monetized the solar panel industry, appropriating American innovations and cornering the market in manufacturing for the industry. While this budget proposes to cut funding for clean energy, China is prepared to spend $360 billion by 2020 on clean energy while creating 13 million jobs, and dislocating millions more of ours.  This is anything but an America First policy.

This budget request also moves the Department’s focus to early stage research—terminating all later stage research, which frankly I can’t understand, along with any deployment related activities. While we have struggled with the appropriate split between early and late stage R&D along with which deployment activities to support, my fear is that this approach will result in a cornucopia of good ideas residing at the labs in a form still insufficiently mature for private industry to take over. We must have attention to this segment of the budget. We have been, for years, talking about what we can do to accelerate the development of technology originating in our labs, this budget would be a step back.

Let me end with this. Turning to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, I would like to read from a letter written to our Subcommittee, which I would like to associate myself with. And the letter is right here. It says,

We are the entire group of Senate-confirmed Republican and Democratic Assistant Secretaries of Energy who led the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) between 1989 and 2017. We are particularly concerned about the Administration’s recent proposal to cut the EERE budget by 69% from FY2017 enacted levels. While we have not always agreed on the relative emphasis of various elements of the EERE budget we are unified that cuts of this magnitude in the proposed FY18 budget will do serious harm to this office’s critical work and America’s energy future.

EERE-supported research, development, and demonstration in energy efficiency, transportation, renewable energy, clean energy manufacturing and electric grid modernization are critical to encouraging U.S. innovation, creating good-paying jobs, cutting pollution, and ensuring American global competitiveness. Other important EERE programs, with similar benefits, focus on setting efficiency standards for appliances and equipment, helping states deliver energy efficiency improvements, leading the federal government’s efforts to reduce its own $23 billion of annual energy bills, and cutting energy use in low-income homes.

Mr. Chairman, I would ask permission to enter the entirety of this letter into the record. And with that, I’ll close my remarks. Thank you once again Mr. Secretary for being here with us today, and we look forward to your testimony.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the time.

115th Congress