President Obama reiterated his commitment to advanced energy, releasing specifics on a proposed energy security trust fund he first introduced in his February State of the Union address. In a speech at Argonne National Laboratory last Friday and in hisweekly address, the President sized the trust at $2 billion in support for advanced energy over 10 years, with funds derived from a portion of federal oil and gas royalty revenues. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), ranking minority member of the Senate’s energy committee, has also proposed such a trust, funded by expansion of drilling in areas now considered off limits. AEE CEO Graham Richard responded in support of the President’s proposal as optimizing federal resources to drive innovation and commercialization of new energy technologies rather than subsidize mature technologies.
With Congress on a two-week recess beginning Monday, the focus on Capitol Hill has been competing proposals to avert a March 27 government shutdown. The Senate version of the FY 2013 continuing resolution, negotiated by Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL), passed 73-26 on Wednesday afternoon and included millions in cuts across energy and environment agencies. The House voted 318-109 Thursday to approve the Senate version, sending it to the President for signature.
Seemingly in the background, the White House has begun releasing details from its FY 2014 budget proposal, which it plans to present to Congress on April 8. A fact sheet from last Friday outlines several requests for increased funding of energy programs, including a 20 percent increase at the Bureau of Land Management to bolster permitting of oil, gas and renewable energy, and $40 million in research to ensure safe and responsible natural gas production.