Funding for Department of Energy research programs, which include work on thin film transistors, would be flat under a House spending bill.

Argonne National Laboratory/DOE

Flat. Funding for Department of Energy research programs, which include work on thin film transistors, would be flat under a House spending bill.

DOE Science Funding Would Remain Flat Under U.S. House Spending Bill

David is a Deputy News Editor specializing in coverage of science policy, energy and the environment.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) science program would see flat funding under a spending bill set for action today in the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would provide $5.071 billion for DOE’s Office of Science in the 2015 fiscal year that begins 1 October. That is essentially the same as this year’s budget, and about $40 million less than requested by President Barack Obama.

The bill and press release unveiled yesterday carry few details beyond the top-line numbers. More information will become available after a panel subcommittee begins the process of approving the bill today at a subcomittee markup.

The measure would also hold funding flat for DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), at $280 million. That is $45 million below the White House’s request of $325 million. ARPA-E seeks to move “transformational” energy technologies out the lab and into the private sector.

In other energy programs, the bill would cut spending on renewable energy R&D in order to boost spending on nuclear and fossil fuel development. DOE’s fossil fuel programs would get $593 million, $30.9 million above current spending, while nuclear energy research would rise by $9.8 million to $899 million. In contrast, renewable energy programs would drop $113 million from current levels to $1.8 billion.

The House panel would also bar the United States from making any cash contribution to the ITER fusion reactor project under way in France until DOE certifies that the multinational project is implementing reforms recommended by an outside review. Lawmakers have become increasingly uneasy about ITER's rising cost, which is eating into funds available for U.S.-based fusion research projects.

The provision is part of a larger $34 billion measure that funds DOE and an array of water resource management agencies. In total, it calls for spending $50 million less on these programs than in 2014, but $327 million more than the president’s request.

The Senate is also working on its version of the measure, but no final decisions are expected until after the elections in November.

Posted in Funding, Policy