Federal Renewable Energy Funding Threatened By Government Sequester

Clean power advocates and government officials are urging both Congress and the Obama administration to offset or delay cuts to the Department of Energy that they say will be costly for the nascent green tech industry in the United States.

According to a letter sent by Energy Secretary Steven Chu to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the spending reductions will lead to serious delays in certain programs and outright cancelations in other important initiatives. In the letter, Chu rejected the notion that renewable energy does not play a pivotal role in the U.S. economy. He pointed to specific undertakings by the Department of Energy that will significantly impair the nation's infrastructure. 

"The effects of sequestration are particularly damaging because, by law, they apply equally to each program, project, and activity Within an account, thereby severely constraining our ability to prioritize and make tradeoffs among activities under reduced funding scenarios," Chu wrote in the letter dated February 1, 2013. 

The Energy secretary stated clearly that up to 25,000 research and development positions could be furloughed or cut as a result of the across-the-board spending reductions, many of which would take place at the U.S. government's various national laboratories. Similarly, the sequestration could create "schedule delays and increased costs" for projects already green-lit by federal officials, including improvements and expansions on existing facilities. 

Environmental rehabilitation efforts conducted by the Department of Energy, especially those related to nuclear clean-up programs in various states, will also feel the pinch from sequestration. Chu said that regions affected by Cold War-era nuclear testing and are still being treated would lose millions of dollars in necessary funds. 

At this time, it's tough to predict how the green economy will suffer as a result of government spending reductions. Stay with the LifeIsGreen.com blog for more updates on this controversial and still-developing issue. 

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