Skip to content

March 03, 2020

King Calls Energy Budget Proposal “A Who’s Who of Backwards Policy”

Senator questions Department’s commitment to renewables when priorities include dramatic cuts to research

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) sharply criticized the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s budget proposal, which would cut research into the fuels of the future by nearly 75% across the board. During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing featuring U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette, Senator King emphasized that the DOE’s proposed budget would not only cut future research dollars, but also refuse to issue funds previously allocated by Congress to key energy programs – a proposal that fails to acknowledge Congress’s Constitutional role in setting government funding priorities.


A summary of the DOE budget cuts by organization can be found HERE.

A breakdown of the budget cuts by organization can be found HERE – the cuts to the office of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy that Senator King references in the below quote can be found on page 17. 

“Mr. Secretary, I like you. I voted for you, but I really don’t like your budget. And a wise person once said, ‘budgets are policy,’ we can talk about policy, but budgets really are policy,” said Senator King. “And I looked down the list, under energy efficiency, and it’s kind of a who’s who of backwards policy. I mean, let’s see, we want more efficient vehicles so – let’s cut vehicle technologies by 81%. Or bioenergy technologies, let’s cut that by 82%. Hydrogen and fuel cell, very promising, minus 72% – it goes on and on, solar, minus 76%, wind, minus 78%, waterpower, that’s only minus 69%, geothermal, a tremendous potential, minus 76%. You just go down and down the list. I don’t get it. I mean, this is the future! This is where we’re going to try to solve these very daunting energy problems and you’re cutting everything; I think the total is 74.1%. Three quarters.”

But let me move to ARPA-E, because I looked at ARPA-E and you did something that I didn’t think was possible, you cut something 173%. Now, the reason that’s possible is you didn’t spend a significant part of the funds that were allocated by the Congress last year. Now, you and other members of the administration have sat here and said, ‘we will do what the Congress told us to do, we will follow the law,’ in fact, you used that exact phrase, ‘we will follow the law’. Well, not spending a substantial portion of the funds that Congress allocates and then trying to claw them back to next year is not following the law. Congress appropriated that money in order to put it toward important scientific projects and the figure is in the range of a hundred-and-some-odd million dollars that you’re clawing back.”

“I’m not asking you to airdrop money over Maine or Colorado or any place else, but, there is a – I mean, the problem is that for the past several years, I’ve sat and been satisfied by the representation saying, ‘we will follow the law,’ when, a half or two-thirds of the money that’s been allocated – and it’s an invasion of the Congress’s power of the purse, we have the ultimate authority on appropriations and the responsibility, I think the phrase is ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’ and I don’t think it’s being faithfully executed when a substantial proportion is held back, and then is attempted to be clawed back in the following year’s budget. But I’m sure you’re going to help me out here and provide the data that we’ve discussed and I look forward to working with you.”

A forceful advocate for clean energy solutions wherever they can be found, Senator King is a founding member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and a lead sponsor on a range of bills that encourage energy efficiency and research on clean energy technologies, such as the Battery and Critical Mineral Recycling Act  which aims to incentivize the recycling of rechargeable and electrochemical batteries needed to meet the United States’ growing clean energy needs and decrease dependence on critical mineral imports, and the Joint Long-Term Storage Act, which seeks to speed up deployment of long-duration energy storage technologies through strategic collaboration between federal agencies. He is a cosponsor of the Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2019 which would put the U.S. on a trajectory to decarbonize the power sector by 2050, and the Clean Economy Act which would address the need for bold climate action and at the same time boosts American competitiveness, promotes healthier communities and fosters a growing economy that works for everyone. Senator King focused the December 2019 edition of Inside Maine on the impact of climate change in Maine, as well as emerging bipartisan solutions to address this global existential crisis. In July, Senator King took to the Senate floor to urge bold and meaningful action to mitigate the threat of climate change. He also continues to speak out to encourage the administration to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and reaffirm U.S. leadership in the fight against global climate change.

Next Article » « Previous Article