- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 3, 2014

House Republicans accused the Department of Energy of abandoning pro-energy initiatives and instead yielding to the Obama administration’s environmentalist and climate-change agenda.

DOE should be the energy policy-setting body, but it seems as though it has relinquished that duty to a degree,” said Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Energy Department’s proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

“Yesterday, this subcommittee held its EPA budget hearing, and I couldn’t help but notice the extent to which EPA sets the energy-policy agenda in the administration, even though that agency has no statutory authority to do so,” he said.

The Energy Department budget will grow by $715.6 million with nearly one-third going to science and energy programs that are explicitly described as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

“Within that overall budget, the president chose to give greater assistance to some of our programs,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

While the Energy Department marks a chunk of its 2015 budget for climate change, House Republicans accuse the Obama administration of setting a my-way-or-the-highway agenda, ignoring Congress.

“Part of the animosity that’s developed in Congress with the president of the United States particularly is related to climate change,” said Rep. Ed Whitfield, Kentucky Republican. “He has emphatically made clear that ‘if Congress doesn’t act the way that I want it to act, then I’m going to do what I want to do anyway.’”

Mr. Whitfield said that in order to get his way, Mr. Obama will circumvent or ignore Congress.

“If we don’t do precisely what he wants on global climate change then as he said, he will go at it alone, and many people in his administration have said the same thing, and he’s doing that by executive order, by executive actions,” he said.

While House Republicans cried foul over cuts in the coal sector, House Democrats praised Mr. Moniz’s attention to climate change.

“I’ve been in Congress for 40 years and I’ve never seen such an embarrassing and dangerous disconnect between what scientists say and how this committee votes,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat.

“I tend to think the Republicans don’t want ‘all of the above,’” said Mr. Waxman, alluding to the Obama administration self-described energy strategy. Republicans “want a strategy to continue to rely on fossil fuels.”

This strong-arm move toward cleaner energy and away from coal leads House Republicans to worry if their constituents, many of whom work in the coal sector, will suffer under increased federal regulations.

“My concern for the manufacturers that I represent is that the problems today are only going to get worse,” said Rep. Robert E. Latta, Ohio Republican.

The Energy Department budget proposal will cut by 8.8 percent the budget of its Office of Fossil Energy, which oversees the research and development of coal.

Also being hurt is funding for technologies that enable coal to be burned more cleanly. Funds for carbon capturing will decrease by 16.3 percent, and carbon storage will see its budget decline by 26.4 percent.

“There truly is this war on coal,” said Rep. David B. McKinley, West Virginia Republican.

But Mr. Moniz said coal is still being factored in to the clean-energy discussion.

“We are making the investments that will enable coal and nuclear power to be competitive in a clean-energy economy, and aggressively advancing efficiency for its economic and environmental benefits,” he said in written testimony to the committee.

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