The Obama Administration's First Budget Shows Progress

For Immediate Release

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The Obama Administration's First Budget Shows Progress

NORTHHAMPTION, Mass. - On May 7, 2009, the Obama Administration released its FY2010 budget, which begins to shift our nation's energy-related values as reflected in spending priorities for the coming year.

 
The following is a brief synopsis of representative Department of Energy numbers. In response, National Priorities Project (NPP) has released a piece which examines the connection between energy and military spending.
 
After the Obamba Administration releases additional budget information next Thursday, look for NPP’s analysis of the complete picture of federal spending priorities and their impact on state-level programs.
 
 
Selected Energy-Related Program Funding At A Glance (in millions)
Program
FY2009
FY2010
Recovery Act
Energy Efficiency &
Renewable Energy
$2,179
$2,319
$16,800
Electricity Delivery &
Energy Reliability
$137
$208
$4,500
Energy Transformation Acceleration Fund (ARPA-E)
 
$10
$400
Green Jobs Initiative
 
$28
$495
Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program
 
 
$6,000
 
 
 
 
Fossil Fuel Research & Development
$876
$618
$3,400
Strategic Petroleum Reserve
$205
$229
 
Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve
$10
$11
 
 
 
Examining the Connection Between
Energy and Military Spending
 
The federal budget has been called a moral document by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Its spending priorities reflect these morals. The release of President Obama's full fiscal year 2010 budget begins to show us his administration's national priorities. Our job as citizens is to reconcile the President's budget numbers with his words.
 
At his inauguration, Barack Obama said, “...each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.” To the degree these values are reflected in his first federal budget, there should be qualitative and quantitative changes in his discretionary spending proposals regarding renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy.
 
Relative to the final Bush administration budget, funding requests for renewable energy-related research and development and for smart grid development and expansion have increased. The Department of Energy sees a 4% increase* in funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy to $2.3 billion. Funding for electricity delivery and energy reliability increases a robust 48% to $208 million. The President requests an additional $10 million to help move scientific discoveries into energy technology innovations. To support the nation's turn to renewable energy, the Department of Labor's Green Jobs Initiative receives $28 million to train workers.
 
While increased spending related to renewable energy is a crucial step in liberating our nation's dependence on oil, an equally critical step is reducing our spending to prop up our oil habit. About 85% of US energy consumption is in the form of fossil fuel while a mere 7% comes from renewable sources. Our need for oil is so great that we have insufficient resources to meet these needs and must import nearly 60% of the petroleum we use.
 
Decreased funding is a necessary incentive to wean us from fossil fuel-derived energy sources. In fact, we see a 31% decrease in President Obama's funding for the Department of Energy's fossil energy research and development, although there is a 9% increase for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Caution is warranted in any enabling of our petroleum habit as that may slow our motivation to shift to renewable sources of energy.
 
Another often unseen anchor impeding the movement towards a renewable energy-based economy is the military funding which supports access to foreign sources of oil. While this spending is not represented by any single line item or functional area of the budget, it nevertheless represents an agenda woven throughout the funding for the Department of Defense. Yet the US is not the only country importing petroleum to meet its needs. China and India have significant projected growth for oil use in the next 20 years that will add pressure to world reserves. Thus, access to these fossil fuels is considered a “vital interest” to the security of the nation, and towards those
ends, the Department of Defense expends resources to ensure its access.
 
In an October 2008 report, National Priorities Project estimated that approximately 18.8% of the Department of Defense's $516.9 billion budget obligations were spent in the service of defending access to these foreign sources of oil. In President Obama's 2010 budget, the Department of Defense has the authority to spend $533.8 billion suggesting that approximately $100 billion will be used to maintain our nation's petroleum habit. To send the appropriate economic and political signals, these funds need to be reduced to encourage and fund
our shift to energy independence through the use of renewable resources. Of course, shifting our nation's reliance from oil will require more than just changes in spending priorities – we should all look to see what energy-related military priorities are outlined in the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review as well.
 
Our brief glimpse into the Obama administration's budget shows that first steps are being taken to shift the nation's energy-related values and redefine what it means to be energy secure.
 
After the administration releases additional budget information next Thursday, look for NPP’s analysis of the complete picture of federal spending priorities and impacts on state-level programs.
 
*All comparisons in text are adjusted for inflation.
 
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The National Priorities Project (NPP) is a 501(c)(3) research organization that analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent.  Located in Northampton, MA, since 1983, NPP focuses on the impact of federal spending and other policies at the national, state, congressional district and local levels.  For more information, go to http://nationalpriorities.org.

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