Subcommittee Scrutinizes Increased Federal Spending Proposals for “Clean Energy” Technologies at DOE

Jun 15, 2011
Subcommittee Scrutinizes Increased Federal Spending Proposals for “Clean Energy” Technologies at DOE

Washington, DC - Today the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing to review the significant increases in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) FY12 budget request for “clean energy” technologies.  Republican Members expressed several concerns over the relative prioritization of these programs and pointed to instances of possible waste or mismanagement of these funds.

In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD) articulated his concerns with the focus and direction of DOE’s clean tech programs. “While we have only begun to review this spending in detail, indications of wasteful, duplicative, and inappropriate spending abound, and are cause for great concern,” Chairman Harris said. “At a more fundamental level, I believe the growing attention to and importance of energy policy warrants more careful consideration of the appropriate role of government in energy technology development.”

The Department of Energy manages a wide portfolio of activities related to the development of clean energy technologies. DOE’s programs span the lifecycle of energy technology development, ranging from long-term basic research supported by the Basic Energy Sciences program at the Office of Science, through later-stage applied research, development, demonstration and commercialization activities supported primarily by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E); and Loan Guarantee Program Office (LPO), which were the focus of today’s hearing.

President Obama made clean energy a centerpiece of his 2011 State of the Union address, calling on Congress to mandate that 80 percent of America’s electricity come from clean energy sources by 2035, and committing to placing one million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015. The President’s FY 2012 budget request touts over $8 billion in spending on clean energy technology development programs, representing an approximate increase of 33 percent above current funding.  This request comes on the heels of a 60 percent increase in EERE’s base budget over the last six years, and over $16 billion worth of Stimulus spending provided to EERE

Republicans scrutinized several programs funded through EERE including one to promote energy efficient buildings in China and ARPA-E funded projects that received significant venture capital funding prior to receiving the ARPA-E award.

Noting that the U.S. economy thrives on innovation and a free-market, Harris said, “America grows by unleashing its entrepreneurial spirit, motivated by the rewards of success, not through the government picking winners and losers and allocating capital through politically-driven policies and programs…it may be counterintuitive to the Washington mindset, but the best way to put American back to work is to get the government out of the private sector’s way.” 

The following witnesses testified today before the Subcommittee:
Dr. Arun Majumdar, Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

Dr. Henry Kelly, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

Mr. David Frantz, Director, Loan Guarantee Program Office, U.S. Department of Energy