DOE: 'All of the above’ not getting all it needs

Anne Wernikoff

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Thursday said the Obama administration’s “all of the above” energy strategy is working, but that more funding is needed.

Moniz’s testimony before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee drew fire from the panel’s Republicans, who indicated they are dubious of the administration’s claims that it remains committed to fossil fuel development.

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The Department of Energy (DOE) is asking Congress for $27.9 billion in fiscal 2015, a 2.6 percent boost from current funding levels. The proposal includes $9.8 billion for the agency’s energy and science programs, a 5 percent increase.

“The 'all of above' energy approach, we believe, is succeeding,” Moniz said, adding that the policy is “producing more gas and more oil, and yet driving down emissions.”

Panel Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) expressed skepticism, noting that the Obama White House has continually proposed spending three to six times as much on investments in alternative energy sources, including wind and solar power, as on fossil fuels.

“It certainly appears to me to be a not-balanced approach — not an 'all of the above' approach by this administration,” Smith said.

The criticism comes amid accusations from congressional Republicans that the White House is waging a “war on coal” via a series of regulations intended to counter the effects of climate change.

In particular, the GOP and allied business interests warn that a pair of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules imposing new limits on power plant emissions would cripple the coal industry.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) pointed to research showing that 80 percent of the world's energy will remain generated by fossil fuel through 2040.

“That’s where the majority of the energy is going to come from,” he said.

Moniz maintained that the DOE is committed to fossil fuels. He pushed back against the suggestion that EPA limits would necessarily put coal-fired plants out of business, saying that developing carbon capture, use and storage technology, known as CCS or CCUS, would allow them to remain in operation.

“I personally believe there’s nothing in the science that suggests that CCS or CCUS will not work at a substantial scale," Moniz said.