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Environment & Energy Report

House Funding Bill Would Boost Clean Energy, ARPA-E Spending

July 6, 2020, 7:53 PM

House Democrats unveiled a fiscal 2021 spending bill Monday that would boost an array of climate-friendly energy spending, including increased funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and advanced energy research.

The fiscal 2021 energy and water spending measure would provide $49.6 billion in total energy and water spending, a 3% percent increase of $1.26 billion over current year levels. The spending bill is slated to make its first stop Tuesday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

It proposes $41 billion for the Department of Energy in fiscal 2021, a $2.3 billion increase over current spending. The bill would provide a $58 million increase to DOE energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts for a total of $2.85 billion in fiscal 2021, and would increase funding for energy research that would have been zeroed out under President Trump’s budget request.

The spending measure “rejects the President’s drastic, short-sighted cuts,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, said in a statement.

The full House Appropriations Committee won’t take up the fiscal 2021 energy and water appropriations bill until the week of July 13, a House Appropriations Committee aide said.

ARPA-E Funding Boost

The bill also would boost funding of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which conducts research on promising new energy technologies, by $10 million in fiscal 2021. President Trump proposed zeroing out funding in fiscal 2021, but Congress has responded by steadily increasing the budget for ARPA-E, which received $425 million in current year spending.

Key Senate Republicans, including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, have branded the ARPA-E cuts a non-starter. Congress over the last five years has increased funding for ARPA-E by 52%.

The 12 spending bills including the energy and water measure ultimately must be passed by both chambers, and both would also have to reconcile any differences before a single bill can go to President Trump for signature. The Senate has yet to schedule markups of its spending bills.

Monday’s bill unveiling is the opening salvo of an annual appropriations process that has been bogged down in recent years, with Congress resorting repeatedly to short-term funding extensions to keep DOE and other government departments and agencies open past Sept. 30, when current-year spending expires.

The House and Senate didn’t pass eight of the eight of the 12 annual appropriations bills until mid-December, requiring months of stopgap spending.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dean Scott in Washington at dscott@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergindustry.com; Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergindustry.com

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