White House issues fiscal year 2014 budget request
President Obama has sent his fiscal year 2014 budget to Congress. It includes increased spending on several renewable energy initiatives. During a speech to announce the budget, Obama stressed the connection between the budget, job growth and economic prosperity.
“To make America a magnet for good jobs, this budget invests in new manufacturing hubs to help turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs,” he said. “We’ll spark new American innovation and industry with cutting-edge research like the initiative I announced to map the human brain and cure disease. We’ll continue our march towards energy independence and address the threat of climate change. And our Rebuild America Partnership will attract private investment to put construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads, our bridges and our schools, in turn attracting even more new business to communities across the country.”
The budget request for the USDA would provide $22.6 billion in discretionary funding, which is roughly equal to the department’s 2012 budget. The White House said the requested budget level would reduce the deficit by $37.8 billion over 10 years by eliminating direct farm payments, decreasing crop insurance subsidies, and targeting conservation programs. A total of $4 billion is slated for investment in renewable energy, clean energy, and environmental improvements with the goal of making America more energy independent and driving competitiveness in the renewable energy sector.
The USDA budget proposes $55 million in funding for a new economic development grant program that would target small and emerging private businesses and cooperatives in rural areas. In addition, the proposal strengthens the targeting of state forestry resources grants and public restoration funds.
Regarding energy, the budget calls for $4 billion in loans to rural electric cooperatives and utilities to support the transition to clean energy. In addition, $238 million is requested to support the Rural Energy for America Program, which assists farmers and rural small businesses in installing renewable energy systems.
The budget request does not include funding allocated to the Biomass Crop Assistance Program for 2014. In the appendix of the budget, the request states that The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 authorized up to $20 million to be appropriated for BCAP in 2013, but that funds must still be appropriated through separate legislation.
The USDA budget does not request discretionary funding for the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, or Repowering Assistance programs.
Obama’s budget request provides $28.4 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. DOE, an 8 percent increase over the 2012 budget. The increased funding level aims to position the U.S. as a world leader in clean energy and advanced manufacturing, enhance energy security and respond to the threat of climate change. The budget request would increase funding for the DOE’s Office of Science by 5.7 percent, or $5 billion. In addition, it aims to increase funding for clean energy technologies by 40 percent compared to 2012 levels.
The DOE budget also addresses vehicles and biofuels. It calls for $575 million to support cutting-edge vehicle technologies, $282 million for advanced biofuels and $2 billion in mandatory funding for an Energy Security Trust to transition cars and trucks off of oil.
Notably, the budget request would achieve savings of $4 billion by eliminating certain subsidies to the oil, gas and coal industries, restructuring the plutonium disposition program, cutting low priority and low performing programs and increasing the utilization of existing facilities and infrastructure.
The DOE budget allocates $2.8 billion to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, with the goal of accelerating research and development. Within the EERE budget, funding would be increased by 75 percent above 2012 levels for the development of advanced vehicles and by 42 percent for advanced biofuels and biorefineries.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s $526.6 billion request for discretionary funding also includes some energy provisions. It includes $32 million in funding for the Installation Energy Test Bed Program to demonstrate new energy technologies, with the goal of reducing risk, overcoming barriers to deployment and facilitating commercialization.