EERE Spending and Management Challenges Hearing

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If you have an evidence-based idea you’d like to convey to lawmakers, or a question that could inform their discussion with witnesses during this hearing, kindly scroll down to submit them via our form, or send them to [email protected]. We will anonymize your submission (unless you prefer otherwise) and place it on our public website that will be shared with the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to inform this important hearing.

Help Congress evaluate spending challenges regarding U.S. development and adoption of clean energy technologies

On Wednesday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing to evaluate management and spending challenges within the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

EERE aims to strengthen U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies and encourage the adoption and development of those technologies throughout the country. The office has made news over the past few federal budget cycles because the Trump Administration has sought to significantly cut its funding. For fiscal year (FY) 2020, the President’s Budget Request recommended cutting the office’s funding by 86 percent, or almost $2 billion. Congress has rebuked these proposals and provided $2.85 billion. However, there are now concerns that the office has failed to spend all of its appropriated funds.

This website provides you with the opportunity to tell Congress what issues should be discussed during the hearing. You can submit questions that lawmakers should ask witnesses, personal stories about your experiences related to EERE, or your general thoughts about the office. You can find several sample questions below.

Hearing details

Main topic: Spending and management challenges at EERE

What: House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Investigation and Oversight, and Energy hearing: “Management and spending challenges within the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy”

Who:

  • Mr. Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary, Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Dr. Charles Gay, Member, Sandia National Laboratory Energy and Homeland Security External Advisory Board; former Director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office, Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Mr. Anthony Reardon, National President, National Treasury Employees Union
  • Mr. Arjun Krishnaswami, Policy Analyst, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council

When: Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at 10:00 am ET

Where: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC / Webcast

Nonpartisan analysis and research

Sample questions for lawmakers to ask witnesses. Please share yours for lawmakers.

More sample questions will be added as objective contributions are received from the expert community. Submit via the form below, or email us at [email protected]! Last updated Monday 2/3/2020.

Since 2017, EERE’s budget has increased by 36 percent, but the number of staff has declined. How can EERE manage a growing R&D budget if it does not have the necessary technology and program manager experts to manage its R&D programs. Does EERE have a plan in place to fill all of its personnel needs?

To what parts of EERE’s work has the office reallocated the funding that could have been used for staff, and what is the thinking behind these decisions? Is the staff at EERE sufficient to manage the projects that the office funds?

If so, please describe how, such as what organizational changes have been made to more efficiently use limited staff. If not, how could EERE streamline and improve the management of existing projects to better use limited staff? Or how should funding best be reallocated to best achieve EERE’s mission?

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), 2019 was the second hottest year on record, and nine out of the 10 hottest years have occurred since 2005. EERE is the main federal office which funds research and development into clean energy technologies. Why does EERE’s budget continue to be slashed by the Trump Administration when there is such an obvious need for clean energy production?

Renewable fuels are a quick and economical way to reduce the greatest amount of transportation-based greenhouse gases – using existing planes, trains, automobiles – while we wait for electric vehicles to be available, affordable, powered by renewables and using batteries. Because of this, EERE’s work on fuels from wastes, residues, and sustainably grown energy crops is especially valuable now. What should be done in Congress and at EERE to properly support the development of this technology?

EERE’s own website highlights that the office’s total funding over its lifetime, which amounts to about $12 billion, has produced a return on investment of $230 billion, a return of over 20 percent annually. This is more than double the average rate of return from investing in the stock market. However, the Administration is focused on cutting EERE’s budget as much as possible. With such a dramatic return on investment for our taxpayers, shouldn’t there be a focus on fully taking advantage of EERE’s capabilities?

Geothermal resources in the earth can provide carbon free, 24/7 reliable, renewable power to the electricity grid. Baseload and flexible geothermal power is needed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to complement intermittent solar and wind. However, research to test and commercialize innovative, closed-loop geothermal power technologies is not being adequately prioritized. Out of a total of $2.848 billion for EERE in FY 2020, only $84 million is dedicated for geothermal power research. What are the biggest challenges to supporting this research?

Hydropower produces approximately 20% of the nation’s carbon-free renewable electricity, 40% of U.S. renewable electricity generation, and 7% of total U.S. electricity generation. With greater efficiencies, hydropower could produce even more in the future. How can EERE accelerate funding and staffing so as to quickly realize more hydropower production?

* This question was provided by Colin Cunliff, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

Quick reads

Energy and water development: FY 2020 appropriations – Congressional Research Service brief

FY 2020 energy innovation funding – Information Technology and Innovation Foundation brief

Energy, the U.S. budget, and climate change – Climate Policy Initiative brief

Deep dives

DOE activities and costs to oversee investments – Government Accountability Office report

Renewable energy and energy efficiency incentives: A summary of federal programs – CRS report

Climate change: Analysis of reported federal funding – GAO report

Resources

Letters and press clips

FY20 budget request: DOE applied energy R&D – American Institute of Physics FYI piece

Agencies continue chipping away at science and climate change spending – GovExec piece

White House: Climate funding is ‘a waste of your money’ – The Hill piece

How much is the government spending on climate change? We don’t know, and neither do they – FiveThirtyEight piece

‘It’s a mess’: Employees fret over spending spree – E&E News piece

DOE stalls clean energy R&D: Risking jobs and competitiveness – National Resources Defense Council piece

Bipartisan bills

Grid Modernization Research and Development Act of 2019 – H.R.5428

Advanced Geothermal Innovation Leadership Act of 2019 – S.2657

EFFECT Act of 2019 – S.1201

BEST Act – S.1602

Engage and take action!

Contribute your nonpartisan, objective statements and questions. We will collate your submissions and post them here – anonymously – as part of this resource for policymakers. Submit via the form above, or to [email protected]!