President Barack Obama will veto the 2015 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act if cuts to technology-related funding are not removed, according to a statement released Wednesday by the White House.
“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 4923, making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes,” the statement said. “If the President were presented with H.R. 4923, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
According to the statement, the $34 billion funding bill calls for unacceptable cuts in technology-related funding for the Energy Department and other funding for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Interior Department.
The appropriations bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, June 20 and has yet to be considered on the House floor. Simpson chairs the Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on House Energy and Water Development Appropriations.
At the Energy Department, the bill cuts $500 million from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which works on the development and deployment of efficient and renewable technologies. The president’s fiscal year 2015 budget requested $2.3 billion for the office.
The administration’s statement also asks Congress to fully fund the president's request for the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as ARPA-E, which is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency focuses on “high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private sector investment,” according to its website.
The bill provides $280 million for ARPA-E, a cut of $45 million from the president’s budget request of $325 million.
“The $45 million reduction would impact investments and delay improvements in technologies that reduce energy-related emissions, increase energy efficiency across multiple economic sectors, and reduce energy imports,” the statement said.
The bill also calls for a $40 million reduction for DOE’s Office of Science, which support’s the department’s fundamental scientific research.
“The $40 million reduction would reduce the number of grants to academic investigators and funding for staff at DOE laboratories working on fundamental discovery science and research that underpins advances in clean energy,” the statement said.
The administration “strongly objects” to a reduction in funding for the Naval Reactors program, which the bill plans to fund at $1.2 billion, as opposed to a requested $1.4billion. The program operates under DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration and provides for the Navy's fleet of nuclear-powered ships.
“Together with the $151 million reduction in the FY 2014 enacted bill, this reduction would continue to put the U.S. Navy's nuclear powered fleet at risk and would jeopardize the program's ability to train nuclear-qualified sailors,” the statement said. “The bill also continues to underfund the Spent Fuel Handling Facility Recapitalization Project in Idaho, risking the operational availability of aircraft carriers and submarines and increasing costs to the Department of Defense.”
But the administration's statement fails to tell the entire story. In it, there's no mention of a $42 million loan guarantee for innovative technologies or a $4 million loan guarantee program for advanced technology vehicle manufacturing that were contained in the appropriations bill.
“[The bill] prioritizes the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also funding important infrastructure projects and research that will increase U.S. economic competitiveness and growth,” Simpson said in the release.