The Energy Department said it has
come up with $5 million to immediately restore jobs cut at a
renewable energy laboratory President George W. Bush will visit
on Tuesday, avoiding a potentially embarrassing moment as the
president promotes his energy plan.
In his State of the Union speech last month, Bush called
for the United States to use less Middle East oil and develop
alternative energy sources, including renewable energy such as
wind, solar power and biomass.
Bush proposed spending millions more dollars in renewable
energy research. However, Democratic lawmakers and
environmentalists questioned the administration's commitment
when jobs were being eliminated at the National Renewable
Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.
Bush will visit the lab on Tuesday to tout his proposal for
more renewable energy research funding.
"The role of the government, at this point, is to continue
to spend research dollars to help push (renewable energy)
technologies forward ... to get these technologies to be even
more competitive in the marketplace," Bush said Monday during a
tour of a solar panel plant in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
To ensure the Colorado laboratory will have the people to
carry out that research, the Energy Department transferred $5
million over the weekend to the Midwest Research Institute, the
contractor that operates the renewable energy lab, to restore
all the jobs cut earlier this month due to budget shortfalls.
"The action we are taking today will allow the dedicated
employees at NREL to continue their work that will bring us
great innovation in renewable energy technologies," Energy
Secretary Sam Bodman said in a statement on Monday.
"The programs at NREL are critically important to realizing
the President's vision to diversify and strengthen our nation's
energy mix," Bodman said.
The Energy Department took the money from other accounts.
The DOE said it will try to restore those funds by using money
from several projects mandated by Congress in 2001 and 2002
"that have failed to make progress."
Bush's 2007 budget requests a 78 percent increase in solar
energy research; a 65 percent boost in biomass research; and a
42 percent rise in hydrogen research, work that would be
conducted at NREL.
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