Biden Energy Budget Charts 2024 Choice Between Polar Paths to the Same Future

During three-hour hearing on $51.4 billion DOE spending plan, partisans tout ‘all-of-the-above’ preferences but espouse divergent policies at ‘pivotal time.’

The most distinctive divergency between the Democrat and Republican parties is in energy policy, the fundamental fulcrum that guides government-wide federal administration while influencing nearly every substantive decision made in Congress—and at millions of family kitchen tables across the country every day.

Despite expressions of bipartisan support for an “all-of-the-above” approach that invests in renewable energies while also enhancing fossil fuel infrastructure, there’s little common ground in practice, with both parties championing opposite “either/or” paths in a 2024 campaign cycle with scant tolerance for nuance or consensus.

This policy polarity surfaced in stark relief during a three-hour May 1 hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy, Climate & Grid Security Subcommittee on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) $51.42 billion Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) budget request.

DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm and panel Democrats praised the proposed spending plan as building on President Joe Biden’s green energy initiatives, capitalizing on the carbon-cleansing, job-generating momentum established with adoptions of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Democrats say under President Biden’s 30-percent tax credit for “clean energy” development, nearly $650 billion in private capital has been invested in U.S.-based manufacturing, including $120 billion in battery factories and $35 billion in electric vehicle (EV) plants, creating more than 275,000 jobs in the last 18 months. Proponents also argue that with more than 600 projects advancing, more jobs are coming.

Under recently finalized federal energy efficiency standards for a wide range of appliances, including refrigerators and freezers, they say families are saving on average $500 a year when replacing the old with the new, part of $3 trillion in estimated energy cost savings by 2030 fostered by new technologies.

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The investments will prevent an estimated 101 million metric tons of carbon from being emitted, putting the nation on target to meet President Biden’s 2035 goal of a carbon-free electricity grid and 2050 objective for a complete carbon-free economy, Democrats proclaim.

President Biden’s energy policies “are growing and modernizing our economy for the future, cutting costs for working families, advancing clean energy projects across the country, and tackling the climate crisis while we try to reduce any dependence on China and grow our manufacturing here,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said.

“America is back. We are the envy of the world,” Ms. Granholm said. “Tens of thousands of jobs are being created from Colorado to California, from North Carolina to New Hampshire, Washington to West Virginia, and everywhere in between. America is back, but we can’t lose momentum.”

Going Green, Seeing Red

Republicans say since President Biden assumed office in 2021, he’s super-imposed his “green energy obsession” onto the economy to force a premature transition to renewable energies at the expense of the nation’s oil and gas industries, making investors wary of financing needed improvements and planned expansions.

Since 2021, they say, electricity prices nationwide have risen more than 30 percent, twice the rate of “Bidenomics”-induced inflation. With electricity demand projected to triple in coming decades, they say, the administration’s regulations are hampering utilities’ efforts to expand, demanding transmission grid projects accommodate climate change goals rather than ratepayers’ needs.

Republicans cite the recently posted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power plant rules, the administration’s January liquid natural gas (LNG) export pause, delays and “obstructions” in public lands leasing—most recently in Alaska—and an array of regulatory growth in imposing efficiency standards and other rules and protocols on products that raise costs for businesses, families, and taxpayers across-the-board.

They say the administration has a “leave-in-the-ground” regulatory emphasis while simultaneously pushing a “rush to green energy” that needs critical minerals and metals now primarily supplied by China, not only imperiling the nation’s energy security but thwarting its own environmental and ‘social justice” goals.

“President Biden says he wants everything made in America, but his environmental and energy policy say opposite,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said. “Families are paying more and what are they getting out of it?”

Since President Biden has assumed office, Mr. Walberg continued, DOE “has completely shifted its mission regarding energy security, reliability, and affordability. [Its] spending priorities weigh heavily towards renewables, and the administration’s overall anti-fossil fuel policies will increase costs for consumers and crowd out opportunity for expanding nuclear and advanced fossil fuel technologies necessary for American manufacturing resurgence.”

“After three years of President Biden’s war on American energy, the American people are suffering,” subcommittee chair Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said, noting DOE’s annual budget has increased 30 percent by about $12 billion under President Biden.

The administration’s “blind obsession to transition everyone away from fossil fuels is straining household budgets, putting the American Dream further and further out-of-reach for many struggling families,” he said.

A sign shows gasoline fuel prices at a Shell gas station in Los Angeles on Oct. 5, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
A sign shows gasoline fuel prices at a Shell gas station in Los Angeles on Oct. 5, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) said it was interesting that despite spending cuts imposed by July 2023’s Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), DOE’s budget continues to grow with “trillions of dollars going out the door” from BIL and IRA grants, tax credits, and other incentives exclusively for renewable energy projects.

“That’s great, except for the fact that when people in my district go to the grocery store, they can’t afford their food, and they can’t afford their energy costs,” he said. “And inflation is a huge problem that’s been driven primarily, in my view …  by [BIL, IRA] legislation that was passed without a single Republican vote.

“And my district people know this,” he warned. “Honestly, the government handing out money to a select few people doesn’t make everybody else happy when inflation is through the roof.”

Rep. Burgess (R-Texas), noting “we are in a budget crisis in this country,” said DOE must tap into the $100 billion it has in BIL and IRA “new Green Deal provisions” rather than ask for a $1.16 billion, or 2.3 percent, increase over its DOE’s FY24 budget to launch more than 70 new regulatory programs.

Mr. Duncan said this right now “is a pivotal time in our nation’s history. The decisions that are made today will impact our kids and grandkids for generations,” and the choice is “simple” but stark.

“We can embrace America’s energy abundance and cement our position as the world’s number one energy superpower, or we can follow the Biden administration’s plan to rely on China for batteries, electric cars, and solar panels made with slave labor and environmental abuses,” he said. “I believe we need an American energy expansion, not an energy transition to China.”

Republicans have an alternate plan, Mr. Duncan noted—2023’s House Resolution 1 (HR 1), which essentially rescinds President Biden’s energy policies and creates, they say, a more competitive and inclusive grant and tax credit program and would invest billions in building oil and gas infrastructure, including pipelines, refineries, and shipping terminals.

The bill has not been heard in the Democrat-led Senate. House Republicans are submitting components of HR 1 piecemeal as 2024 bills to rehash the same points they made last year and in DOE budget hearings this year. It is, after all, a campaign year.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) called on the Senate to adopt HR 1 and for the House to reject DOE’s FY25 budget request that is “doubling down on policies to restrict oil and gas to retire baseload power generation and to promote widespread, unaffordable, unreliable electrification. That is not how we secure our energy future.”

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks before helping to raise the Progress Pride flag outside of the Department of Energy in Washington on June 7, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks before helping to raise the Progress Pride flag outside of the Department of Energy in Washington on June 7, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Stuff Of Summer Hearings

Ms. Granholm, a former Democrat governor of Michigan, showed no sign of wavering during nearly three hours of grilling. It was her third FY25 budget hearing since March, and more such face-offs will come through July.

There is much to talk about—DOE’s budget finances operations across 84 sites in 29 states, including 17 National Laboratories. It employs 14,800 and has nearly 125,000 contractors on its books.

Discussion before House appropriators ranged across a vast swath of topics, from electric vehicle infrastructure to nuclear power advancements to a transformer shortage threatening grid expansion. They will be the stuff summer hearings are made of.

Democrats say the DOE budget reflects the direction established by BIL and IRA and that it is charting the right path to the future. HR 1 is a campaign distraction with no chance of passing, they said.

“Two historic and complimentary laws are now being implemented, thank God,” Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) said.

“We’re addressing the climate change crisis and catalyzing a clean energy transition that is truly going to benefit everyone,” he said. “It’s going to take time to see the full implementation, but we’re well on our way.”

Don’t be so sure, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) warned, vowing the 2024 elections present an opportunity for needed “pretty quick change in policy.”

“I hope the country delivers in November,” he said.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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