FY2006 Department of Energy Appropriations (11-9-05)
The Department of Energy (DOE) programs of interest to the geosciences include programs for renewable energy and activities within the Office of Science, such as the Basic Energy Science program which has a geoscience division. Also of interest is the Yucca Mountain site characterization activities and environmental remediation of the nuclear weapons complex.
The priorities of the Department of Energy's (DOE) energy program are to: increase domestic energy production; revolutionize our approach to energy conservation and efficiency; and promote the development of renewable and alternative energy sources. Fossil fuels coal, oil and natural gas -- currently provide more than 85% of all the energy consumed in the United States, nearly two-thirds of our electricity, and virtually all of our transportation fuels. Moreover, it is likely that the nations reliance on fossil fuels to power an expanding economy will increase over at least the next two decades even with aggressive development and deployment of new renewable and nuclear technologies. Because our economic health depends on the continued availability of reliable and affordable fossil fuels, the Department of Energys Office of Fossil Energy oversees two major fossil fuel efforts: emergency stockpiles of crude oil and heating oil and research and development of future fossil energy technologies.
For analysis of hearings held by Congress on Energy appropriations, click here.
* These two accounts combined fund the Yucca Mountain project.
The President proposes a $23.4 billion fiscal year (FY) 2006 budget for the Department of Energy (DOE). This would represent a 2% cut from last year's appropriations of $23.9 billion. About 40% of the DOE budget ($9.4 billion) is for defense, national security programs and weapons cleanup. The other 60% ($13.3 billion) is for energy ($2.6 billion), science ($3.6 billion) and environmental programs ($7.1 billion). The proposed budget would eliminate funds for oil and gas research and hydropower research while boosting funds for nuclear power and hydrogen fuel cell research. Nuclear cleanup programs and funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository would also be trimmed. Perhaps the most controversial proposal; however, is the plan for the federal power marketing agencies to raise their prices by 20% per year to achieve market-based rates, increasing the cost of energy for consumers in many regions.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Spending on Hydrogen Technology would increase 5.3% from $94 million last year to $99 million in FY2006 and spending on Wind Energy would also increase by 8.4% from $41 million last year to $44 million. Hydropower research would be phased out with a proposed $0.5 million to shut down the program while Biomass and Biorefinery Systems R&D would be slashed by 38% from roughly $81 million last year to about $50 million and Geothermal Technology would be trimmed by 8% from $25 million last year to $23 million.
Office of Fossil Energy
Proposed spending for fossil energy would increase by 18.7% from $640 million last year to about $760 million with funds shifted to coal research while oil and gas research would be eliminated. Within the office, spending would be focused on programs that support the President's Clean Coal Research Initiative and the National Energy Policy's Clean Coal Power Initiative. The Clean Coal Power Initiative/FutureGen would receive a small increase of 1.4% from $67 million in FY2005 to $68 million and Coal Research and Development would receive an increase of 6% from $205.7 million last year to $218 million. Natural Gas Technologies would be slashed by 78% from $45 million to $10 million, Petroleum-Oil Technologies would be reduced by 71% from $34 million to $10 million and Cooperative Research would be cut by 64% from $8 million to $3 million. The minimal spending proposed for FY2006 for oil and gas would be used to shut down these programs.
Office of Science
The total proposed budget for science would be cut by 3.8% from about $3.6 billion last year to $3.5 billion. Basic Energy Sciences, Fusion Energy Sciences and Safeguards and Security would receive increases while Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Biological and Environmental Research, High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics and Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists would receive decreases in the proposed FY2006 budget compared to FY05 funding levels.
Basic Energy Sciences
Basic Energy Sciences which includes Materials Sciences and Engineering (MES) and Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Energy Biosciences (CSGEB), would receive an increase of 10.7% for research from $875 million last year to $968 million. All of this increase would go to MES which would receive a 17.5% boost from $635 million appropriated in FY2005 to $746 million. CSGEB's budget would decline by 7.4% from $239 million in FY05 to $222 million. Some of this decrease would be for the elimination of research in high resolution imaging of Earth's crust and flow of fluids in porous materials.
Biological and Environmental Research
The research in this subprogram would be cut by 20.3% from $572 million in FY2005 to $456 million. Most of the reduction would come from shutting down Medical Applications and Measurement Science from $123.7 million in FY2005 to $14 million. Environmental Remediation would also be cut by 9.3% from $104 million last year to about $95 million, while Life Sciences and Climate Change Research would receive small increases. Within Climate Change Research, Climate and Hydrology would be boosted by 2.3% from $74 million last year to $76 million and Atmospheric Chemistry and Carbon Cycle would see a small increase of about 1% for a proposed budget of $36 million. Funding for Ecological Processes would remain nearly constant.
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM)
The primary mission of OCRWM is to develop a geologic repository, Yucca Mountain, for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from commercial reactors and atomic energy defense activities. OCRWM receives funds from defense and non-defense waste disposal programs within DOE. The Nuclear Waste Disposal program contains funding for Yucca Mountain, Transportation, Program Management and Program Direction, while the Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal program only contains funding for Yucca Mountain. The Nuclear Waste Program would be cut by 12.6% from $343 million last year to $300 million, while the Defense Nuclear Waste Program would rise by 53% from $229 million last year to $351 million.
Yucca Mountain was approved for development in 2002 and DOE had to delay their request for a site license for construction in 2004. Submission of a license application was delayed for several reasons, however, two primary and persistent problems are a court ruling that invalidates the EPA compliance period for waste disposal and under funding of the Yucca Mountain project by about $1 billion over the past 10 years. Spending within OCRWM will focus on getting a license application prepared for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, awarding a design/build contract for the 300 mile long Nevada rail line and upgrading the utilities in the exploratory tunnel system that serves as a test bed for scientific studies and experiments.
Overall the Yucca Mountain project would receive an increase of 3.4% from $413 million last year to $427 million. Within the non-defense Yucca Mountain project, funding for Fuel Handling Facility, Waste Package, and Initial Infrastructure Readiness would receive large increases while Safety Analyses and Assessments would decrease by 27% from $125 million last year to $91 million. The budget for transportation of waste materials to Yucca Mountain (Nevada and national railways), would be almost tripled from $31 million in FY2005 to $85 million in FY06.
Office of Environmental Management
The Office of Environmental Management was established in 1989 to clean up the waste and contamination from nuclear weapons development and energy research. It includes an environmental clean-up account for both defense and non-defense activities. Non-Defense Site Acceleration Completion would be increased by 9.5% from $157 million appropriated in FY05 to $172 million. Non-Defense Environmental Services, which supports the cleanup of sites would decrease by 38% from $289 million last year to $177.5 million. Defense Site Acceleration would decrease by 9.6% from $5.738 billion last year to $5.183 billion while Defense Environmental Services would decrease by 4% from $866 million in FY2005 to $831 million.
On May 25, 2005 by a vote of 416-13, the House passed the $29.75 billion Energy and Water Appropriations bill (H.R. 2419). The total amount is equal to the President's request and $131 million below fiscal year 2005 enacted levels. The Army Corps of Engineers would get slightly more than $4.7 billion, the Bureau of Reclamation would get a bit more than $977 million and the Department of Energy would receive almost $24.6 billion.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
EERE would get a total of $1.235 billion, an increase of $35 million above the President's request. The House would add $14 million more for research and development (R&D) of biomass and biorefinery systems, $2 million more for vehicle efficiency technology and $5 million more for building efficiency technology.
Office of Fossil Energy
The committee did not agree with the President's proposal to terminate oil and gas technology R&D. In particular, the oil R&D is targeted at helping small producers maximize domestic production and small producers cannot afford the costs of technology development on their own. The committee provided $33 million for natural gas technologies and $29 million for petroleum-oil technologies.
The committee recommended that most of the natural gas R&D be distributed as follows: $9 million for advance drilling, completion and stimulation; $4 million to expand gas recovery from low-permeability formations; $2 million for stripper wells and technology transfer; $1 million for improvements in gas storage systems; $2 million for liquid natural gas technologies and $3 million for cleaner water treatment discharge technologies. They also singled out methane hydrates as providing one of the greatest potential sources of abundant natural gas and added $12 million for methane hydrate research.
They distributed the oil R&D among the following programs: $4 million for enhancing utilization of industrial carbon dioxide; $4 million for drilling and completion enhancements that support Microhole exploration; $4 million for reservoir imaging; $3 million for improved gas flooding recovery methods; $6 million for reservoir life extension; and $8 million for environmental protection.
The committee addressed the low assessment ratings of the oil and
gas R&D by requesting a strategic plan by the end of the year.
The report states:
The Committee reduced the Carbon Sequestration project by $17 million compared to the President's request because they felt the current pilot-scale projects were sufficiently funded and the program could not absorb the scale of the increases requested. They funded the Clean Coal Initiative and FutureGen at the requested levels and deferred $257 million for Clean Coal Technology until after October 1, 2006.
Office of Science
The Committee increased the Office of Science budget to $3.666 billion, $203.4 million more than the President's request and $66 million more than FY2005 enacted levels.
Basic Energy Sciences received an increase of $27 million above the President's request, with an additional $19.7 million to maintain operating time at Basic Energy Sciences user facilities and $7.4 million more for university grants.
Biological and Environmental Research was increased to $526 million, with $70 million added to the President's request and split evenly for congressional earmarks and Medical Applications and Measurement Science.
Advanced Scientific Computing Research received $246 million, an increase of $39 million over the Administration's proposal, with $9 million of the total increase for university grants and not more than $25 million for hardware.
High Energy Physics received $735 million, an increase of $22 million over the President's request while Fusion Energy Sciences received $296 million, an increase of $5.6 million over the President's request.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert offered an amendment (200) to the bill that would delay appropriation of funds for ITER, the international burning plasma fusion research project, until after March 1, 2006. The delay would allow Congress to determine how the DOE, the fusion science community and the President would propose paying the $1 billion U.S. contribution to this international project before the U.S. has to sign any agreements. The House is concerned about how DOE will pay for its contribution to ITER and would like the President to submit his FY07 budget plan before the House has to consider funding priorities.
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM)
The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository received $661 million, $310 million for nuclear waste disposal and $351 million for defense nuclear waste disposal. The Committee noted the failure of the Environmental Protection Agency's 10,000 year radiation standard, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's invalidation of DOE's first licensing request, the problems with the U.S. Geological Survey quality assurance documentation and the consistent under-funding of the project by Congress as reasons for the growing delays in opening the repository. The repository was expected to open in 2010, but now its earliest possible opening date is 2012 and that is an extremely optimistic target date. Every year of delay will cost the DOE $1 billion ($500 million for liability for failure to take title to commercial spent fuel and $500 million to monitor and protect nuclear waste at DOE sites). In addition the Yucca Mountain Repository can hold 70,000 metric tons of high-level waste and this capacity will be fully utilized by 2010. Given the delays and capacity issues, the Committee believes the DOE should begin recycling spent nuclear fuel and until recycling becomes operational, DOE should take title of commercial spent fuel and consolidate the fuel in above ground interim storage facilities on DOE sites. Suggested sites include Hanford, Idaho and Savannah, however, other federal sites, closed military bases and non-federal fuel storage facilities could be considered. The Committee also suggested the need to develop a second repository and the Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires the Secretary of Energy to report on the need of a second repository by January 1, 2007.
Office of Environmental Management
Total spending for defense-related environmental cleanup activities would receive a total of $6.468 billion, an increase of $453 million over the budget request, while the non-defense-related environmental cleanup would receive $320 million, a decrease of $30 million compared to the budget request. More funds would be provided for cleaning up the Hanford Site and the Oak Ridge Reservation while fewer funds would be provided for cleaning up the Savannah River Site compared to the President's request.
Appropriators combined the environmental services and site acceleration completion accounts under one "environmental cleanup" account, for both defense and non-defense environmental managment. In the Appropriations Committee report that accompanied the bill, the Committee explained:
The text of the bill (H.R. 2419) and the committee report (109-086) is available at thomas.loc.gov.
The Energy and Water Subcommittee of the House
Appropriations Committee is chaired by Representative Hobson
(R-OH) other members include Frelinghuysen
(R-NJ), Latham (R-IA),
Wamp (R-TN), Emerson
(R-MO), Doolittle (R-CA),
Simpson (R-ID), Rehberg
(R-MT), Visclosky (D-IN),
Edwards (D-TX), Pastor
(D-AZ), Clyburn (D-SC)
and Berry (B-AR).
On June 30, 2005, the Senate approved a fiscal year (FY) 2006 Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill by a vote of 92-3. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and John Sununu (R-NH) voted against the bill. An amendment offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to take away funding for nuclear "bunker buster" research failed by a vote of 43-52. Senators Wayne Allard (CO-R) and Ken Salazar (CO-D) were successful with an amendment related to the purchase of mineral rights at the Rocky Flats reservation. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also had a package of 10 manager's amendments added to the bill.
The Senate recommended a total of $31.245 billion for the Department of Energy and the Corps of Engineers, exceeding the President's Request and the bill passed in the House by about $1.5 billion. For the Department of Energy, the Senate bill provides $25.04 billion, which is $1.2 billion more than requested by the President and $475 million more than approved by the House. The total Senate bill represents a $788 million or 3% increase over FY2005 funded levels.
The subcommittee recommended a budget of $5.298 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers which is $258 million above the current level of funding. Several members expressed displeasure with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which recommended terminating at least 40 projects in the Corps' FY2006 budget. Ranking Member Harry Reid (D-NV) reported, "Fully 65 percent of the funds added to this bill have been spent within the [corps], mostly to try to restore cuts that would have the effect of stopping construction dead on projects nationwide, many in their final year of funding."
The Bureau of Reclamation would receive $1.08 billion which is $130 million above the President's request and $63.5 million above the current year levels. The Cal Fed program was kept at the President's request of $35 million and Water 2025 would not exceed the current year level of $20 million. Both programs are intended to prevent western water wars.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Renewable energy and efficiency research and development would receive $1.25 billion of which $354 million goes towards research and development of renewable energy supplies such as geothermal, an increase of $5 million compared to FY2005 levels. This funding includes $182.69 million for hydrogen and $92 million for biomass development. The vehicle technologies program would be funded at $199 million, well above the President's request of $166 million and the House-approved $168 million. Hydropower would be funded at the President's request of $500,000 and hydrogen research would increase to $182.7 million from the current year level of $94 million. Unlike the House, the Senate did not add an additional $14 million for biomass.
Office of Fossil Energy
Total funding for fossil energy would be $641 million, which is $69 million above the FY2005 enacted level, and like the House bill, far below the President's request. The Senate bill includes $100 million for the Clean Coal Power Initiative, $50 million more than both the President's request and the House recommendation, and $18 million for the FutureGen project, a research initiative to create a near-zero emission coal plant.
The subcommittee restored cuts to the Oil and Gas research programs, although unlike the House, the subcommittee made no particular mention of the Administration's request to terminate these programs. Under the bill, Natural Gas Technology would receive $27 million, and Oil Technologies would receive $32 million. Overall funding for oil and gas production research would decrease $20 million from the FY2005 funding level and would be $3 million more than what the House bill recommended. The subcommittee also recommended $182 million for hydrogen, of which $83 million is intended for fuel cells and $99 million for general hydrogen research and development.
The bill also includes a $1.6 million increase over the budget request to Fossil Energy Environmental Restoration, and $34 million worth of regional, congressionally-directed research projects.
Office of Science
The subcommittee also fully restored the cuts proposed for the Office of Science, funding science programs $248 million above the president's request, and $102 million above the current year level. Total funding would be $3.7 billion, roughly $34 million more than what the House recommended, $100 million of which the committee provided to support "100% utilization" of all Department of Energy Science facilities. "This is not the time nor the year to reduce the Office of Science," said Senate Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM), according to E&E Daily. He added that, in recent years, the DOE's national laboratories "have not been getting the increases they need."
In the report accompanying the bill, the subcommittee added several paragraphs explaining the importance of investment in physical sciences:
"Investment in the physical sciences...is essential to the development and utilization of our energy resources, as well as innovations in the areas of defense, the environment, communications and information technologies, health care and much more. Over the past 50 years, half of U.S. economic growth has come from prior investment in science and technological innovation. Life expectancy has grown from 55 years in 1900 to nearly 80 years today.
"...But the foundations for the future of the physical sciences are eroding. The Department of Energy's Office of Science, which is the leading source of Federal investment for R&D facilities and fundamental research in the physical sciences, is at a crossroads. At a time when our international competitors are significantly scaling up their investments in the physical sciences (the European Union will soon double its overall funding for R&D), funding for the Office of Science and other U.S. agencies has been flat or even declining. This comes at a time when U.S. industry is scaling back its investments in long-term research in the physical sciences in an effort to remain competitive in the short term.
"...The Government must tap into the enormous capabilities of the Office of Science and regain world leadership in the physical sciences. DOE user facilities should be operating at their designed capacity, providing key discovery opportunities for thousands of new researchers every year. University research programs in nanoscience, catalysis, mathematics and physics should be expanded to ensure training of the next generation of outstanding scientists needed to solve important national problems. Multidisciplinary research at the national laboratories should be encouraged to meet national challenges in defense, energy production and the environment. Taken as a whole, these investments will ensure U.S. leadership in the physical sciences and the vitality of the U.S. economy."
Basic Energy Sciences would receive $1.2 billion, which is $95 million above the President's request. This recommendation includes $7.3 million for the DOE Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and $5 million for the purchase of additional fuel for the High Flux Isotope Reactor.
For chemical sciences, geosciences, and energy biosciences research, the Senate bill provides a total of $247 million, adding $25 million for energy and water resources management. These funds would support a research and demonstration program to study water storage and hydropower, $8 million of which would go towards advanced concept desalination and arsenic treatment research, $12 million for water supply technology development, and $5 million for water management support, particularly in areas where there are trans-boundary water resource issues.
Biological and Environmental Research would receive $504 million. The subcommittee recommended $22 million less than the House of Representatives but $48 million more than the President requested. There was concern among committee members about the public health impact associated with a recent radiological event, resulting in a recommended $7 million for UCLA Institute for Molecular Medicine.
Advanced Scientific Computing Research would receive $207 million. The Subcommittee expressed support for the National Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and pledged to provide adequate funding for the next phase of machine acquisitions that the President proposed to halt. The five national laboratories would receive $40 million.
High Energy Physics would receive $717 million, surpassing the President's request by $3 million. The Committee encouraged DOE and NASA to move foreword "aggressively" with the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM).
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM)
The Senate bill provides $577 million for nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain which is $74 million below the President's request. Absent from the Senate bill is a provision for interim storage of nuclear waste that was included in the House bill passed two weeks earlier. On June 10th, the Senate Appropriations Committee Energy and Water Development subcommittee received a letter from anti-nuclear and environmental groups urging members to remove from the provision from the Senate bill. The letter, signed by influential groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Nuclear Control Institute, stated, "There will be added risks to public health and safety as waste is transported to interim storage sites on busy highways and railroads across the nation." Senator Reid said, "Moving forward on solutions to the problem of nuclear waste in a world where Yucca Mountain appears to be less likely than ever is going to be hard work and involve a lot of give and take and consensus building. It is not the work of a couple of paragraphs and a couple of bucks. All the House has done has been to stir up members in highly unproductive ways."
Office of Environmental Management
The Senate allotted $7.3 billion for this office including $6.37 billion for defense cleanup exceeding the President's requests in both cases. The subcommittee decided to restore $34 million to the Hanford site cleanup budget cut by the President. The House had voted to add $195 million to that budget. Non-defense environmental services would receive $353 million which is almost exactly what the President requested. Defense environmental services would receive $6,366 million which is about $226 million less than the budget originally proposed.
The bill also provides a large amount of funding for the planned mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel facility at the Savannah River site. The House had only agreed to fund $59 million while the President requested $362 million. The Senate chose to honor the President's request providing $24 million for a pit disassembly facility and over $338 million for the plant itself. Senator Domenici justified the Senate's decision by saying, "It's our only pathway to eliminating excessive, dangerous plutonium supplies."
The text of the bill (H.R. 2419) and the committee report (109-084) is available at thomas.loc.gov.
The Energy and Water Subcommittee is chaired by Senator Domenici (R-NM). Other members include Senators Cochran (R-MS), McConnell (R-KY), Bennett (R-UT), Burns (R-MT), Craig (R-ID), Bond (R-MO), Hutchison (R-TX), Allard (R-CO), Reid (D-NV), Byrd (D-WV), Murray (D-WA), Dorgan (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Johnson (D-SD), Landrieu (D-LA) and Inouye (D-HI)
On November 7, 2005, conferees agreed on the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, HR 2419 and the bill was then approved by the House of Representatives the following day by a wide 399-17 margin. On November 14 the Senate approved the bill 84-4. After much debate, conferees compromised over how much to restrict the Army Corps of Engineers spending practices, which had been a major roadblock to passing the bill. The House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-OH) strongly opposed the Corps' practice of continuing contracts, through which it obligates money for multi-year contracts even though Congress has only appropriated money for the first year. Senate appropriators, however, argued that the Corps needs flexibility to reallocate funds, and eventually the conferees decided to allow continuing contracts in certain situations.
Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers rose to a record $5.4 billion driven by an urgency to provide the Corps with more funds to rebuild coastal areas and New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. The total is only $57 million or 1% above FY 2005 levels, but it is much larger than the proposed funding levels originally passed by both chambers and it adds more than $1 billion to the President's request. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Reclamation would receive $1.1 billion, which is $47 million above FY 2005 levels. CalFed and Water 2025, two large water projects in western states, would receive $37 million and $5 million respectively.
The $24.3 billion approved for the Department of Energy is $787 million
below the level passed in the Senate and $286 million less than that
passed by the House, but the total DOE budget is still $76.5 million
greater than the administration's request. Funding for the Yucca Mountain
Nuclear Waste Repository was cut to $450 million, $127 million below
FY 2005 levels and $201 million below the President's request. In
response to the growing setbacks, the final bill includes a $50 million
plan to develop new nuclear fuel recycling capacity by 2010.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Under the conference agreement, EERE would get a total of $1.83 billion, an increase of $81.5 million above the president's request. Conferees added $19.5 million for research and development (R&D) of biomass and biorefinery systems, $2 million for vehicle efficiency technology and $5 million for building efficiency technology. Funding for hydrogen, geothermal, wind, and solar energy would remain at the administration's requested level.
Office of Fossil Energy
Total funding for fossil energy would be $598 million, which splits the difference between the House and Senate bills and comes in $162 million below the president's request. Conferees decided to fund the Clean Coal Power Initiative at $50 million, as originally requested by the administration. Despite this conservative allocation, however, the report states that the $50 million request is "woefully short" of the administration's $200 million commitment, and directs the administration to fulfill its commitments to the program in the near future. The conferees also decided to defer until FY 2007 the allocation of $257 million in clean coal technology funds. The report states that "These balances are no longer needed to complete active projects in this program. These funds are to be used for costs associated with the FutureGen program in fiscal year 2007 and beyond, to develop a coal-fired, nearly emissions-free electricity and hydrogen generation plant." FutureGen was funded at $18 million for FY 2006.
The conferees provided $65 million for oil and gas research programs, which is higher than either the Senate or House bill, but $14 million under FY 2005 funding levels. The report made no mention of the administration's request to terminate these programs.
Of the $33 million provided for natural gas technologies, conferees provided $9 million for advanced drilling, completion and stimulation, including Deep Trek, a research and development program to improve the performance and safety of drill rigs. The total also includes $4 million to continue work to improve the recovery of natural gas from low-permeability formations, $2 million for stripper wells and technology transfer, $1 million to improve the reliability and efficiency of gas storage systems, and $2 million for liquid natural gas technologies. Gas hydrates research would receive $12 million, and water treatment technologies at natural gas and coalbed methane wells would receive $3 million.
Of the $32 million provided for petroleum-oil technologies, the bill includes $10 million for environmental protection research, $4 million to research utilization of industrial carbon dioxide, $4 million to support microhole exploration, and another $4 million for reservoir imaging.
Office of Science
The conference committee restored the roughly $135 million in cuts that were requested for the Office of Science, bringing total DOE Science funding to $3.63 billion in FY 2006. This total falls below the House and Senate proposed levels, providing a modest increase of $33 million above FY 2005 enacted levels. According to the House Appropriations Committee press release, this includes an additional $30 million for continued efforts to develop a leadership class advanced computer for the scientific community.
Basic Energy Sciences was funded at the president's requested level of $1.146 billion, a 3.7% increase above FY 2005 funding levels.
Biological and Environmental Research funding was restored to $586 million, which is higher than the House and Senate proposals and $130 million over the budget request, restoring congressionally-directed priorities that had been eliminated. This level is a modest $5 million over FY 2005 funding levels.
Advanced Scientific Computing Research received $237 million, an increase of $30 million over the administration's proposal, with $5 million of the total increase for university grants and not more than $25 million for hardware. The overall allocation is also a modest $5 million increase over FY 2005 funding levels.
High Energy Physics received $723 million, restoring $10 million of the administration's requested cut of $23 million. Fusion Energy Sciences received $290 million, the same as the president's request and a 6% boost over FY 2005 levels.
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM)
As mentioned above, the conference report provides $500 million for nuclear waste disposal, which is an overall cut of $73 million and comes in far below the $661 million proposed in the House and $577 million proposed by the Senate. The lower numbers reflect growing consensus in Congress that recent delays and controversies surrounding the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository warrant a partial suspension of funds. Of the $500 million total, the Yucca Mountain Project would receive $450 million, a $127 million cut that will be removed from the non-defense nuclear waste disposal fund. The conference report states:
The remaining $50 million in the nuclear disposal account will be reallocated to help develop a nuclear fuel recycling plan, with a goal of building an operational facility by 2010. This congressional directive is a direct result of the delays and growing storage capacity problems facing the Yucca Mountain site. In the report, conferees direct DOE to begin research on designs for nuclear reprocessing facilities and investigating possible sites for such a plant, including initial environmental impact statements. Sites would be selected through a competitive process meant to encourage states to volunteer potential federal and non-federal sites, setting 2007 as a target site selection date. Under the plan, the facility would become operational by 2010.
The final bill does not include $10 million for developing an interim storage program as proposed by the House.
Office of Environmental Management
The Conference Committee allotted $6.5 billion for this office, including $6.192 billion for defense cleanup. Both of these numbers are lower than those passed by the House and Senate, but exceed the president's request. Non-defense environmental services would receive $353 million, which is almost exactly what the president requested.
The conferees reached a compromise on funding for the planned mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel facility at the Savannah River site by providing $220 million. The House had only agreed to fund $59 million while the Senate had provided the President's request of $362 million. The Senate's allocation of $24 million for the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility remains intact.
The House Science Committee held its first Energy Subcommittee Hearing
to discuss the Department of Energy's research and development (R&D)
priorities as represented by the FY 2006 budget request. As laid out
in the subcommittee's hearing
charter, the Administration's total request for civilian R&D
is $60.8 billion, 8.9 % of which would go toward DOE programs. Reductions
on the order of 3-9% are slated for all of DOE's energy resource R&D
accounts except for Nuclear Energy, which would receive a 4% increase.
Fossil Energy R&D would receive the greatest cut, of over 14%.
In particular, Biggert was concerned about how the 4.9% overall R&D reduction within DOE might hurt U.S. competitiveness on the global market. Honda agreed that progress in technological solutions and scientific advancement depends on the certainty and stability of federal R&D investment. Of particular concern to Honda was the negative affect this lack of investment would have on the functioning of the nation's research laboratories and the enrollment of science and engineering students at U.S. universities.
The five witnesses expressed gratitude for the members' concern and support, and they went on to outline their top priorities in the restricted budget environment. DOE Science Director Ray Orbach assured the subcommittee that the DOE would use the available funds in "the best way possible" to maximize U.S. scientific leadership. Among the highlights listed by each witness in his testimony were increased focus on energy efficiency and renewables within the transportation sector, the Nuclear Power 2010 Initiative, the Clean Coal Power Initiative, and the Hydrogen Initiative.
According to the subcommittee's figures, renewable energy and energy efficiency R&D will have seen 13% and 15% declines, respectively, since 2001, excluding hydrogen and fuel cell research. In contrast, hydrogen research will have increased by 172%, fossil fuel research by 11% (mostly for clean coal), and nuclear research by 39%. Several members voiced concern about a lowered emphasis on renewable fuels and conservation technologies, particularly building technologies.
Chairwoman Biggert questioned whether the President's Hydrogen and FreedomCAR initiatives were sapping funds from other research programs. "Are we sacrificing short- and mid-term successes in many sectors for the sake of one long shot in one sector?" she asked in her opening statement. This question was not revisited in the question and answer portion of the hearing, but Doug Faulkner, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), got the chance later to report improvements in domestic energy use over recent decades and to further highlight the important progress being made through 200 hydrogen research grants. Furthermore, according to Faulkner, The EERE budget is weighted two-thirds towards conservation and one-third towards renewables.
For more issues important to the Science committee on the subject of science and energy solutions, read a comprehensive analysis in the hearing charter.
The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee heard testimony from Department of Energy (DOE) officials on the challenges facing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, the progress of various nuclear waste clean-up projects, and fiscal year (FY) 2006 funding requests for DOE fossil fuel research and development programs.
At the outset, Chairman David Hobson (R-OH) exclaimed that finding a safe repository for nuclear fuel is "the single most important issue on this subcommittee's agenda." He declared the House would "lead the charge" on Yucca Mountain, and called on both the Administration and industry to step up their commitments to keep construction on schedule. Theodore Garrish, Deputy Director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, assured the subcommittee that the repository "is as well situated as it has ever been." He said the site has been reaffirmed by the court system, and the lisencing process is well under way. The Administration requested $651 million for FY06, to support the license application and to advance the repository's design and construction plans.
When listing the challenges facing the site, Garrish mentioned a report, released the same day, revealing that government scientists may have falsified computer modeling data involving water infiltration rate and climate at the site. There was little response from Chairman Hobson on this issue, but following the hearing, the report received media attention nation-wide. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman issued a statement calling for DOE to conduct an extensive review of all relevant data for quality assurance, but it is unclear whether this will have a major effect on the licensing process.
Regarding other challenges facing the site, Garrish said he was optimistic that the EPA would issue its radiation protection standard for Yucca Mountain without further delaying the license application. He did call on subcommittee members, however, to reach an agreement over the project's long-term funding needs, which aren't included in the Administration's 5-year budget projection. According to Garrish, the project would need roughly $1.5 billion annually to cover construction costs, and he provided the subcommittee several potential funding profiles. "Until the issue is resolved," he said, "there is no start date."
Department of Energy budget request for Environmental Management Projects totals $6.5 billion. Paul Golan, the program's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, gave a progress report for the department's nuclear waste remediation activities. Concerns among members of the subcommittee surrounded how clean-up priorities are set. Other questions concerned the proposed decrease in funding for the Hanford vitrificiation plant, while seismic studies are conducted. Hobson proposed funding levels stay elevated to ensure swift progress after the study is complete.
The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee heard testimony from Department of Energy (DOE) officials regarding the role of energy science research, nuclear energy, and energy efficiency programs in the agency's Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 priorities.
The Administration requested $3.5 billion for DOE's Office of Science, a 3.8% decrease from the FY05 appropriation. The biggest cuts occur in Advanced Science Computing Research, core and Congressionally-directed Biological and Environmental Research, and Nuclear Physics. Chairman David Hobson (R-OH) called the overall decrease "troubling," raising concern that the Administration is willing to "sacrifice leadership in science in order to meet other goals." Raymond Orbach, Director of the Office of Science, insisted that the budget request is "based on the maintenance of U.S. scientific leadership." Basic research programs to receive additional support include an expansion of Nanoscale Science Research Centers, new neutron science activities at the Spallation Neutron Source, and continued research regarding climate change and carbon sequestration. The U.S. would also contribute $50 million for ITER, the international fusion collaboration, to be sited in either France or Japan. When Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN) asked how the Administration reconciles these goals with proposed cuts for university grants, Orbach testified that in order to maintain leadership under a tight budget, there had to be an optimum trade-off between investment in new facilities and such education programs.
The President's budget also includes $1.2 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Director David Garman testified funding decisions were entirely determined by the goal of U.S. energy independence. The plan includes substantial increases for hydrogen and fuel cell research and partnered infrastructure projects, a slight decreases for solar and geothermal power, modest increase for wind power, and an 18% decrease for biomass and biorefinery research and development. When Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) suggested this cut represented a step back from energy diversity, Garman ensured that the $72 million program is "healthy" and sufficient to meet the agency's goals.
For Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology programs
at DOE, the administration requests a 5% increase, to $511 million,
which would be the highest budget for the Nuclear Energy Program since
the 1990s. Aims are to reassert U.S. leadership and work closely with
utilities through the Nuclear Power 2010 program and Generation IV
international research effort. In light of the Administration's support
for constructing new nuclear plants, Chairman Hobson pressed Magwood
on the option of reprocessing nuclear waste. "I'm not comfortable
with starting new plants without a way to handle spent fuel,"
Hobson said, asking why the U.S. does not engage in fuel recycling
when it is common in several other industrialized countries. Magwood
explained that the U.S. has historically been concerned with the proliferation
risks and technological challenges involved in separating uranium
from plutonium. Today, the country's reliance on competitive fossil
fuels makes reprocessing nuclear fuel less economical. "We are
still several years away from economic and safe technologies"
This brief hearing lasted about 30 minutes because of other meetings and hearings scheduled for the same time. Only the subcommittee chairman, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), ranking minority member, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Patti Murray (D-WA) and Senator Conrad Allard (R-CO) attended all or part of this hearing. Mr. Golan summarized the Environmental Management proposed budget, highlighting the operational efficiency that would be gained by transferring legacy waste management for 7 sites, newly generated waste at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oak Ridge Y-12 plant and operation of the Nevada test site low-level waste disposal to National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Chairman Domenici indicated that he was not convinced that such a transfer was feasible because NNSA has too many other projects. Domenici also questioned whether the $651 million spending proposed for Yucca Mountain was adequate. Ted Garrish responded that the funds were satisfactory and the Yucca Mountain budget is strongly supported by the administration. Senator Reid emphasized that last year was a very bad year for Yucca Mountain and he listed 5 major problems. Senator Allard called the Rocky Flats clean-up a success story and Senator Murray criticized the reduction by $548 million for the Hanford clean-up and stated there was no reason to cut this essential program. She suggested that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the DOE were unfairly targeting the state of Washington, however, because she was trying to keep her comments brief she did not explain why the state was being targeted. Chairman Domenici concluded the hearing with a provocative comment that the low-level radiation standard may be wrong based on a National Academy of Sciences study. He did not say what if any action should be taken and neither witness responded to this half comment, half question.
The Energy and Water Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations convened to hear testimony about the President's proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget for the Department of Energy (DOE). The hearing was abbreviated to a one-half hour session so that the Chairman David Hobson (R-OH) and the only witness, Samuel Bodman, the Secretary of Energy could leave at 10:30 to make a scheduled airplane departure. In his opening statement, Chairman Hobson (R-OH) welcomed the new secretary and said that he hoped Secretary Bodman would be able to make the DOE a more effective department by "kicking bureaucracy in the posterior". Hobson also emphasized the importance of funding scientific research and expressed his disappointment over the proposed cuts to the DOE's Office of Science. The ranking minority member, Peter Visclosky (D-IN) in his opening statement also supported more funding for science and singled out non-proliferation and energy independence as key missions of DOE.
In Secretary Bodman's testimony, he stated that national energy security was a key goal of DOE. He emphasized that DOE was working with the Department of Defense (DOD) to assess nuclear stockpiles based on cutting edge science and that a robust defense Research and Development program was critically important to this assessment. He also stated that the U.S. needs an affordable energy supply and nuclear power must remain a viable component of that supply. Future energy resources would be based on transformative technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a burning plasma experiment that might lead to fusion energy technology. DOE is committed to funding research on future hydrogen and fusion energy resources, as well as cutting edge science on carbon sequestration, which would allow the nation's 250-year coal reserves to be exploited with reduced environmental impact.
After the secretary's abbreviated testimony, Representatives Zach Wamp (R-TN), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Marion Berry (D-AR), James Clyburn (D-SC), Ed Pastor (D-AZ) and Tom Latham (R-IA) echoed Chairman Hobson's opening remarks that the future of the United States rests on science and that research should be well-funded within DOE. Representatives Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) and Dennis Rehberg (R-At-Large-MT) focused their brief question periods on the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) and the President's proposal to raise the rates charged by the PMAs to competitive market levels. Both representatives indicated that such a price increase would decimate rural communities in their districts.
The DOE, like other agencies, is phasing in 5 year budget plans for each of its major programs or offices. The Office of Science, Environmental Management and the Nuclear Weapons Program have provided 5-year budget plans to Congress for the first time. Chairman Hobson and Rep. Wamp called the 5-year budget plan for the Office of Science unacceptable because funding would be reduced every year.
Several representatives supported Rep. Visclosky opening remarks that the U.S. needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and Rep. Frelinghuysen said that he was disappointed that there was almost no mention of conservation, in the proposed budget. He believes that conservation should be a bi-partisan concern in a time of war and citizens should be expected to make some sacrifices.
The Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Jerry Lewis (R-CA), joined the hearing about halfway through the questioning and he was given some time to question Secretary Bodman. Rep. Lewis focused his questions on the need for the U.S. to keep up with India and other countries in technological advances. He cited the Indian Institute of Technology as an example of competition and asked Bodman if there was a way to stimulate the private sector to work with universities to develop technological advances. Bodman pointed out the historical differences in funding for life sciences which has steadily increased and the funding for physical sciences which has remained flat for decades. The DOE is funding mostly physical science research and he noted the proposed budget would fund 4 new nanotechnology laboratories.
Chairman Hobson closed the hearing with several critical comments about the need for DOE to work with DOD to develop and implement a revised stockpile plan before DOE proceeds with advanced concept research projects. In 2001, President Bush signed the Moscow Treaty to significantly reduce the number of deployed U.S. strategic nuclear warheads by 2012. Hobson's subcommittee had succeeded in holding up funding for DOE's advanced concepts, such as the robust nuclear earth penetrator study and the modern pit facility, in 2004, until DOE submitted a plan. Much to the chairman's continued frustration, that plan has not been released to the public. Hobson then criticized the modern pit facility as "utter folly" because we don't understand the science of platinum aging and therefore don't know how many pits we would need.
Under the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget request, the Department of Energy (DOE) would receive $23.4 billion, $475 million (2%) below FY05 funding levels. In his testimony, Secretary Bodman stated that six DOE programs would face termination or cuts. These include the termination of Nuclear Energy Plant Optimization, Nuclear Energy Research Initiative, Hydropower research, and Oil and Gas research and development programs. Environmental Management programs would see funding cuts, and electricity rates for regional Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) would be reformed to reflect market prices. Bodman highlighted the department's priorities as determined by the budget proposal:
Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) along with other senators questioned whether various budget items were consistent with National Energy Policy, which is currently under debate in Congress. With research funding lowered or flat for renewable energy, energy conservation, and oil and gas research, Thomas noted significant challenges ahead. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) highlighted a small line-item in the budget for terminating funding for a collaborative program to work with China on clean coal technology. On a similar note, Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) asserted that the clean-coal tax credits proposed for the energy bill must be supported in the budget.
Senator Bingaman also questioned Secretary Bodman on how the country can break out of its "shortsighted" long-term investments in science, "especially the physical sciences." Under the Office of Science's five-year estimated projection, DOE science funding would fall from $3.6 billion to $3.36 billion, a decrease of $0.81 billion in real dollars, or 22.5% cut. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) expressed similar concerns over U.S. job growth in science and technology sectors. In response, Bodman pointed to tough budget decisions, conceding that significant reductions were made to important programs, but funding would remain sufficient for the U.S. to maintain leadership in science.
The Administration's proposal to raise electricity rates for Bonneville Power, a Power Marketing Administration (PMA) that serves the northwestern states, received the most attention in the hearing. Majority and minority committee members alike called the move "a waste of time" and "counterproductive." Bodman insisted the proposal was in the interest of phasing out federal tax-payer subsidies to the PMAs, but committee members said an effective plan to deal with subsidies was established over a decade ago, and additional attempts by the government would devastate the northwest economy, which already suffers from high electricity prices.
Sources: Department of Energy; Environment and Energy Daily; Greenwire; U.S. House of Representatives; United States Senate
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at email@example.com.
Contributed by Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs Program; Linda Rowan, AGI Director of Government Affairs; Anne Smart, AGI/AIPG Summer Intern 2005, and Katie Ackerly, Government Affairs Staff
Last Update June 23, 2005