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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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The combination of increased natural gas use, energy efficiency and renewable energy has reduced the nation’s carbon emissions to their lowest levels since 1994, Wyden said, emphasizing the need to make sure hydraulic fracturing is environmentally sound.

“Abundant, low cost natural gas also provides our country with a competitive advantage over competitors in Europe and Asia whose costs are four or five times the costs of our manufacturers,” he said.

Poneman acknowledged that natural gas has proved to be “a game changer for this country,” jumping from 2 percent of the nation’s energy source to 35 percent in a short period of time.

“We are investing in the R&D where it’s helpful,” Poneman said. “There is leverage in the fact that we are not doing this alone,” maintaining that the agency is teaming up with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior to deal with fracking.

“We are making hard decisions on where the dollars go but I want to assure you that the dollars we have dedicated to this technology we believe are the right dollars,” he said.

Murkowski was equally perplexed by the department’s approach to hydropower, saying it was among the “forgotten renewables” that never received sufficient funding from DOE. The potential, she said, “is so untapped” yet “it doesn’t seem like a priority.”

Poneman said the proposed budget actually increases funding for hydropower development.

“It still looks pretty meager when you compare it to wind and solar,” Murkowski said.

Also on Thursday, the committee in a 21-1 vote approved and sent to the Senate floor the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist, to serve as the nation’s 12th secretary of Energy, succeeding Steve Chu, who resigned.

In an unusually quick session, Wyden said Moniz, the subject of a confirmation hearing last week, is “more than up to the challenge” of wrestling with the nation’s energy needs, noting that he will use “the best science and the most current data in considering the issues.”

Moniz, Wyden said, might actually be the first energy secretary, should he be confirmed, “who instead of having to confront energy shortages and scarcity would instead oversee an era of abundant carbon reducing natural gas and dramatic growth of renewable energy technologies.”

Murkowski urged other Republicans on the panel to support Moniz.

“I think he will focus on an energy policy that is affordable, abundant, clean, diverse and secure,” she said. “He recognizes that energy is good. He’s thoughtful, he’s considered.”

The lone holdout was Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who expressed concern that the administration’s plan to cut funding for a project to transform plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel will adversely affect his state.

“As his resume indicates, Dr. Moniz is a well-educated and experienced nominee. However, his lack of clarity on the future of the MOX program – a project critical to South Carolina and to the safe disposal of 34 tons of weapons grade plutonium, in keeping with our international treaties – led me to a ‘no’ vote today,” Scott said. “Clarity is something all too rare in Washington, and, as of today, Dr. Moniz’s position on the future of the MOX program is murky at best. Given what is at stake, that is unacceptable.”

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Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.

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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
1 year ago Link To Comment
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