United States

United States

BUDGET BATTLE GOES ON

Massive US government budget cuts for wind and other renewables are still a major issue on Capitol Hill. Various figures for cuts in the wind budget, planned projects and reduction of the number of DOE research laboratories have been issued. But it will be months before the final outcome of the budgetary process is known.

Passive US government budget cuts for wind and other renewables are still a major issue on Capitol Hill. Plans to slash the federal wind energy programme by 80% rocked wind lobbyists in early June. But later in the month another congressional committee voted to return $5 million to it, bringing the proposed wind budget back up to $20 million for fiscal year 1996. The White House and President Bill Clinton had proposed a far-higher wind budget of $49 million.

It will be months before the final outcome of the budgetary process is known. The second house of the US Congress, the US Senate, has yet to start its budgeting process. And the full budget for fiscal year 1996 will not be finalised until late in the summer. The full house had yet to consider the appropriations as of June 23 following the move by the House of Representatives' appropriations committee to return the wind budget to $20 million.

The $5 million hike was seen as an important step in the right direction by wind lobbyists. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) had warned that many vital wind programmes -- such as the advanced wind turbine programme, utility wind turbine verification, and the National Wind Co-ordinating Committee -- would have to be cut with a budget of just $15 million.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) had also estimated that the initial cuts proposed for renewables and energy efficiency would have cost the US economy 240,000 jobs, 35 million metric tons of carbon equivalent air emissions, and $17 billion in energy cost savings.

Also on Capitol Hill last month, a proposal to eliminate the DOE over a three year period was released on June 8 by Republican congressman, Todd Tiahrt. The bill is strongly opposed by AWEA, which especially condemns its proposal to reduce the number of DOE research laboratories.

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