The President’s Budget

NWF   |   February 5, 2008

The budget presented on Monday by the White House is an outrage.

It contradicts the hopeful words spoken by the president in his State of the Union address just a week ago about confronting global warming, and sends a message to the nation that any effort by this administration to advance a clean energy future is just empty talk.

Perhaps most egregious, the administration is eliminating the Weatherization Assistance Program that helps poor families reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The Department of Energy’s website claims the program "is this country’s longest running, and perhaps most successful energy efficiency program. During the last 30 years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program has provided weatherization services to more than 5.5 million low-income families."

We need to lift America’s poor out of their energy dependency by giving them access to energy efficiency opportunities. It is unfair to make those least responsible for global warming pay more to confront the problem. And the weatherization assistance program is one proven way to help those Americans least able to invest in solutions do their part.

If we hope to reduce global warming pollution by 2 percent per year and meet the targets scientists say are necessary to avoid a climate catastrophe, we must use every tool available, and the most obvious – and easy – is promoting energy efficiency on a large scale.

I’m alarmed that the actions of the administration seem to be in direct conflict with the words President Bush spoke during the State of the Union.

President Bush in State of the Union speech:

"Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions- free nuclear power. Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future."

Bush Budget:

The proposed budget cuts 28 percent from energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. Solar energy research, an initiative Bush claims is aimed at making solar power cost-competitive with conventional electricity by 2015, is reduced by $12 million from 2008 levels.

And the president just cut $280 million from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a block grant program that helps the poor pay heating and air-conditioning bills.

Meanwhile, the budget for the "President’s Coal Research Initiative" rises more than 40 percent over 2008 levels.

President Bush in State of the Union speech:

"To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology…Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions."

Bush Budget:

Of the 3 programs that were cut completely from the Department of Energy budget, two were for renewable energy development and energy efficiency. On January 30, the administration announced it is canceling its plan to build the first emissions-free coal plant, the Illinois-based "FutureGen" project. In 2003, Bush called it a potential breakthrough in clean coal technology. But this week, he pulled the plug on the project.

The president says he wants to confront global warming. But his budget suggests he’s committed to do-nothing policies for the remainder of his presidency. If he does not act now to confront climate change, he will have left behind a nation full of deficits: financial and environmental.


Published: February 5, 2008