Washington , D.C. - March 5, 2008 – The Subcommittee on Energy and Environment today heard from a panel of government and outside witnesses on the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) fiscal year 2009 (FY09) budget request for research and development (R&D) programs.

“The Department of Energy can help lead this country to energy security,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC).  “American ingenuity, venture capitalists, and industry are ready to join in this effort and I hope that we can find agreement that breaking free of oil requires great goals and great commitments.   This budget should embody those goals and empower those commitments.”

A longtime supporter of hydrogen energy technologies, Inglis expressed his disappointment that the budget request cuts funding from the President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, saying, “Such a reduction would suspend applied research on renewable hydrogen and delay the advent of a hydrogen future.”  He continued, “If enacted, this funding decrease would mean closure of laboratories dedicated to renewable hydrogen projects and a subsequent loss in the valuable momentum and research.”

The FY09 budget request for DOE’s Office of Science is $4.7 billion, which represents an 18 percent increase over the level appropriated by the FY08 omnibus appropriations bill. 

Former Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) highlighted the damage done to the DOE laboratories by the FY08 omnibus bill.  “I appreciate the Department of Energy remaining committed to the American Competitiveness Initiative and the spirit of the American COMPETES Act in the fiscal year 2009 budget request,” Biggert said.  “I know the DOE was particularly hard hit in the FY08 omnibus, and I’ve seen some of the fallout first-hand at Fermi and Argonne National Laboratories in Illinois.”

The FY 2009 budget includes funding to promote the licensing of new nuclear power plants as well as research on an advanced nuclear fuel cycle. The President’s Advanced Energy Initiative energy portfolio also includes investment in making solar power cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity by 2015 and supports a robust vehicle technology program that includes developing lithium-ion batteries, plug-in hybrids, and drive-train electrification. 

In his written testimony, Dr. Raymond Orbach, Under Secretary for Science at DOE, applauded the FY09 budget request, saying, “Our Nation continues to face significant challenges in energy security and in our ability to maintain the scientific leadership and innovation that assures our continued economic security.”  Orbach continued, “These challenges are addressed by the President in his American Competitiveness Initiative and Advanced Energy Initiative announced in 2006. The President’s budget request for FY 2009 is a strong demonstration of his continued commitment to these important initiatives.”