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Where’s the Fracking Support in Obama’s Budget?

Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said many of the cuts contained in budget were “clearly misguided.”

Bill Straub


April 19, 2013 - 1:34 am
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WASHINGTON – Senators from both parties issued strong objections Thursday over what they view as the Obama administration’s failure to provide sufficient funds for fracking research in the proposed 2014 Department of Energy budget.

During a budget hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also agreed that the $28.4 billion spending package doesn’t invest sufficient funds in support of alternative energy sources like hydropower.

Wyden, the committee chairman, said many of the cuts contained in the president’s budget were “clearly misguided.”

“I remain concerned about some of the investment decisions that I’ve seen in the Department of Energy budget because I don’t think they truly reflect the level playing field that’s needed to promote choice and competition in energy and particularly encourage energy investment,” Wyden said.

Murkowski, the ranking Republican who supported Wyden in all of his objections, said she was disappointed in the administration’s document and insisted that too many potentially rewarding energy sources are ignored.

The administration, Murkowski said, is constantly emphasizing its “all of the above” approach to energy sources “but I don’t see that necessarily reflected in the budget here.”

“Instead it would appear there are still the favorites, even amongst the renewables and the vehicle technologies,” Murkowski said. “One example is the water power account is cut despite the fact that hydropower is by far our largest source of clean, renewable energy.”

Daniel B. Poneman, the deputy secretary and chief operating officer for the Department of Energy, defended the initiative, asserting that the budget’s research initiatives “will help power America’s great innovation machine to accelerate energy breakthroughs and create jobs.”

“The administration recognizes the government’s role in fostering scientific and technological breakthroughs and has committed significant resources to ensure America leads the world in the innovations of the future,” Poneman said.

As an example, he cited the proposed $5.2 billion funding for the Office of Science to support basic research “that could lead to new discoveries and help solve our energy challenges.”

“These funds support progress in materials science, basic energy science, advanced computing and more,” he said. “They also provide America’s researchers and industries with state-of-the-art tools to ensure they stay at the cutting edge of science.”

But Wyden expressed particular concern about research into hydraulic fracturing, popularly known as fracking, a method implemented to reach natural gas deposits by drilling into the earth’s surface using pressurized liquid and breaking into shale. Fracking has resulted in record-high levels of natural gas production.

The proposed budget devotes $12 million toward research on natural gas technology – a 15 percent cut.

“While this has certainly been a big plus for our economy and benefits our country in a whole host of ways, valid concerns have been raised as to how safely this continued development can be done,” Wyden said. “These environmental issues in my mind have got to be addressed and they’ve got to be addressed right.”

The investment in research in natural gas extraction “would be returned many times over in savings that would be accrued in environmental cleanup and revenue from further development,” Wyden said. “So there’s a lot on the line. And it’s hard to say look at the size of the stakes and then see this really very modest, disproportionately small effort put into research.”

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All Comments   (3)
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They don't want to spent money on R&D when the outcome would be against their agenda. They will shut it down through the EPA . What peak we have of LNG recovery will start to wane soon due to China and Russia are getting into the act of fracking now so their consumption and delivery markets respectfully will remain out of the hands of the USA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good, Lord! The absolute *last* thing we need is for government to have any role in fracking! The only thing the government should do is get the hell out of the way and let entrepreneurs make us energy independent and energy exporters all by themselves. The government should just stand aside and leave the fracking business alone! No government R&D! No government subsidies! No government restrictions on fracking! Just pure unfettered capitalism!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How about we disband and defund that bloated parasite know as the D.O.E. and re-invest those trillions of wasted dollars on an agency that was created by jimmy cater in the 70's to keep gas prices low and get us off the forieng oil tit we have been sucking on ever since? There are a host of other useless 3-letter agencies that we could live very well without and the moeny wasted on those departments could re-vitalize our economy from the ground up. Also, the feds have been hiding & downplaying that the USA has at least a 200 year supply of natural gas, a SEA of oil under the rockies that stretches from canada down into mexico, and our shale oil fields would keep us going for at least another 100 years. If we the people kicked the foriegn influences out of our government and banking industries we could become the #1 country in the world again and STAY THAT WAY for the foreseeable future with enough jobs for everyone who still wants to work and enough money to support those who don't without beaking a sweat.
1 year ago
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