Shrinking budgets force staff cuts, but some projects
find friends in high places.
"They're putting the best face on the inevitable."
Funding for renewable energy for government/ industry research partnerships took another beating early this summer (em and that's on top of a $113-million cut suffered this fiscal year. Next year promises to be no different, as scientists, bureaucrats, and their industry partners await the next round of deliberations in Congress by subcommittees on the Interior, and Energy and Water.
"What they're really aiming for," predicts a national lab official, "is a phasing out of all energy efficiency and renewable energy work."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) faces its own future in the DOE Abolishment Act (H.R. 1993). Various proposals circulate. The worst would gut
the department. Then there's H.R. 3415, which would temporarily repeal the 4.3-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and make up some
of the lost revenues with a $14-million slash in DOE administrative expenses.
Any of these cuts could filter down to renewable and energy-efficiency programs, forcing the question: Are the salad days over for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Sandia National Laboratory (em the agencies that perform the lion's share of this research work. Will these agencies see the end of their industry partnerships? Will the United States lose its lead in renewable technologies?