June 12, 2014
The US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water approved fiscal year 2015 funding this week for the Department of Energy, the Corps of Engineers and related agencies. The bill totals US$34 billion—US$50 million below the 2014 enacted level, but US$327 million above the President's request. It reflects a re-ordering of priorities from the President's request, with a major increase for the Corps of Engineers of nearly US$1 billion and a greater emphasis within the DOE budget on fossil and nuclear energy programs, with cuts made to renewable energy program funding.
The bill increases overall funding for DOE's energy programs by US$113 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Within that total, funding for DOE's fossil energy programs is increased by more than US$30 million and nuclear energy programs receive nearly US$10 million over last year's level. Funding for the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is reduced by US$113 million below last year's appropriation. The subcommittee states in its bill summary that this allocation "prioritizes and increases funding for energy programs that encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and that help advance the nation's goal of an 'all of the above' solution to energy independence."
Funding for the Office of Science is kept the same as fiscal year 2014, at US$5.1 billion. Within DOE's defense programs, the subcommittee prioritizes nuclear weapons activities and funding for the naval nuclear reactors program. Both received substantial increases over 2014 enacted levels, while nuclear non-proliferation programs are reduced by just under US$400 million. DOE environmental cleanup programs are cut by more than US$200 million.
The subcommittee provides continued support for Yucca Mountain waste disposal activities. It allocates US$150 million to DOE's Nuclear Waste Disposal program and US$55 million to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue the adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application. The bill denies funding for the DOE's proposed non-Yucca nuclear waste disposal activities.
The bill now moves to the full House Appropriations Committee for its consideration. The Senate has not yet taken any action on its version of the bill, but the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water is expected to take a different approach to funding of DOE's energy programs by rejecting the House's large cut in renewable energy research.