Budget Brief: Energy and Environment

(This is one of a series of Budget Briefs CRD Associates is posting on key facets of President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 proposal to Congress.)

President Obama’s FY2013 budget proposal for energy and environment emphasizes investment in clean energy while cutting fossil fuel subsidies and lower-performing programs. At the same time, the president proposes greater oversight of offshore oil and gas operations by the Interior Department; cuts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by more than $100 million; and provides a 3.2 percent increase above current levels for the Department of Energy (DoE).

Overall, the president’s strategy appears to be the prioritization of innovation, by increasing the federal R&D investment by $2 billion as well as increasing funding for Science Technology Education and Mathematics (STEM) programs across all federal agencies by more than two percent.

His proposal includes $2.3 billion for DoE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, part of a broad energy strategy emphasizing clean energy and advanced manufacturing. The proposal, should it be enacted, is being touted as one that would create new industries, new jobs and improve the nation’s’ standing as a leader in innovation. Another way the president’s budget tries to do this is by doubling research and development on advanced manufacturing processes and advanced industrial materials, enabling companies to cut costs by using less energy while improving product quality.

Some programs that are on the chopping block at DoE include hydrogen and fuel cell programs, which would see a whopping 23 percent cut under this budget proposal.

With regards to environmental regulation, the president proposes to focus on enforcement of environmental and public health protections, with $50 million in EPA program terminations being proposed. In contrast, the Department of Interior’s Land and Water Conservation Fund would see a 30 percent increase from FY2012.

Collectively, the proposals for FY2013 are made with the goal of achieving an “all of the above” energy policy, though some aspects, like eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, will certainly be dead on arrival in Congress. Nevertheless, the range of proposals offered may be a window into what the president will highlight on the campaign trail.

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