Skip to primary navigation Skip to content
March 22, 2016

Committee Discusses DOE Science and Technology Priorities with the Secretary of Energy

(Washington, DC) – Today the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to examine the Department of Energy’s (DOE) science and technology priorities and discuss the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request for the Department of Energy’s research and development portfolio. Testifying before the Committee was the Honorable Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said in her opening statement, “I think we can all agree that the federal investments in research and development have proven to be worth every penny, especially in the energy sector. Without these crucial investments over the past century the nuclear power industry would not be where it is today, the shale gas boom may have never happened, and our growing utilization of the vast array of renewable sources might be nonexistent.”

Democratic Members of the Committee were supportive of a number of aspects of the budget request, including the proposals for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, ARPA-E, and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, as well as for most programs within the Office of Science and specific crosscutting research areas such as the energy-water nexus. Members also expressed support for Mission Innovation, the agreement the United States made along with 19 other countries to double their support for clean energy research and development activities over the next five years.

Congresswoman Lofgren said to Secretary Moniz of Mission Innovation, “The way we produce and use energy over the coming decades will ultimately determine the future of our planet, and technological innovation is a key factor in all of this. I applaud you for your work to guarantee a brighter future in the face of the growing threat of climate change.”

Democratic Members also discussed a number of concerns, such as the proposed cuts to the Office of Fossil Energy, Fusion Energy Sciences (FES), and the advanced reactor program within the Office of Nuclear Energy.

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) addressed the cuts to the Office of Fossil Energy, and specifically to the Texas Clean Energy Project in her statement for the record. She said, “The Department is proposing large cuts to or the outright elimination of a number of worthwhile programs carried out by this Office with little justification provided in the budget request. You are also proposing to reprogram funds previously appropriated for the Texas Clean Energy Project, an important first-of-a-kind commercial power plant that aims to capture 90% of the plant’s carbon emissions. And by all accounts you are doing this with virtually no warning provided to either the project or those of us in Congress who have been such strong supporters of it over the last several years.

“I certainly understand that sometimes new research projects are unsuccessful in meeting their initial goals and difficult decisions must be made to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used wisely. But this needs to be done in a clear and transparent fashion, with mutually understood milestones and potential consequences for not achieving them. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case regarding the Department’s recent actions that would effectively terminate this project, a project which could be a major step toward meeting our nation’s – and indeed the world’s – long-term goals to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Congresswoman Lofgren expressed concerns regarding the proposed cuts to the Fusion Energy Sciences. She said, “The potential for fusion energy is growing as we see incredibly innovative researchers and companies approaching this challenge with new ideas and designs. Yet these innovative concepts seem to reach a dead end if they go to FES for support. The landscape and potential for fusion research is changing and it does not appear that the fusion energy budget is changing with it. It would be disappointing and disheartening if the ultimate fusion breakthrough never saw the light of day because of unnecessary limitations within your budget.”