House GOP unveils $34B energy spending bill

The House Appropriations Committee on Monday unveiled a $34 billion energy and water spending bill for fiscal 2015.

The bill, which will be considered by an Appropriations subpanel Tuesday, increases funding for fossil fuel energy programs at the expense of renewable technologies and reduces overall spending on nuclear and energy security from 2014 levels.


The legislation, which provides annual funding for a number of Energy Department projects as well as national energy defense and nuclear weapons, comes in at $347 million above President Obama's request for 2015. 

House lawmakers got an early start this year on the appropriations process. The budget deal struck last December has helped ease the process for appropriators by setting a topline spending figure for 2015.

"This bill reflects the tough decisions necessitated by our challenging fiscal environment, while placing emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation's infrastructure," Rep. Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith SimpsonIdaho GOP's power struggle underscores fissures in party Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-Idaho), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water, said in a statement. 

"It prioritizes the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also funding important infrastructure projects and research that will increase U.S. economic competitiveness and growth," he added.

The bill provides $11.4 billion for Energy Department nuclear weapons security programs, a $155 million jump from last fiscal year. Overall spending on energy security, though, is down $50 million from 2014 levels.

It also includes $5.6 billion for environmental cleanup activities, a drop from last year. A big chunk of that goes to sites contaminated by nuclear weapons production.

Pressing for an “all of the above” energy strategy, the House GOP is increasing funding for research and development at the Energy Department for coal, natural gas, oil and other fossil fuel technologies, totaling $593 million. Renewable energy programs will be cut $113 million from last year's levels, coming in at $1.8 billion. 

The legislation also allocates funding for science research, the Interior Department's management of water resources across Western states, and nuclear waste facilities.

The controversial proposed nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada will receive $150 million for its disposal program, and the legislation presses the administration to move forward on the site's license application.

While Republicans have urged the Energy Department to work expeditiously on a review of the facility, the administration has voiced strong opposition to using the site, which is roughly 100 miles outside of Las Vegas.