A coalition of more than 30 business, consumer, environmental and energy policy organisations banded together in September to call for increased funding for renewables in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. In a letter to the US Congress, the groups note that appropriations bills approved by the Senate and House of Representatives include no increase in renewables funding over fiscal-year 2005 levels, while also pointing to significant cuts in wind energy programs, among others. "What Congress is looking at is trying to fund any kind of aid that would go to hurricane relief efforts," says Jaime Steve of AWEA, one of the letter's signers. "In doing so they're looking to make across-the-board spending cuts of maybe 2% off every program. In other words, every program would have to pitch in to provide hurricane aid and still try to balance the budget. That in itself is not a bad thing. But our thinking is that if one wants to lower energy costs, one wouldn't want to cut energy programs." The letter follows the release of a report by the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 100 House Republicans, calling for elimination of applied research for renewable energy sources. Even prior to the recent hurricanes, Congress had proposed spending cuts on renewables. "We're saying that's a huge mistake," says Steve. "It would be penny-wise and pound-foolish. What we're really saying is that hurricane relief is important, but don't lose the long term focus."
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