Senate Democrats

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities: Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environmental Protection, Wildlife Conservation, and Green Jobs

The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 makes key investments to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental protection, wildlife conservation, and green job creation.  These investments will create jobs, promote economic growth, advance clean energy technologies, and protect our environment.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would provide $1.93 billion to the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which is $206 million more than was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2008.  The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy manages the nation’s investment in research, development and deployment of renewable energy resources and energy conservation technologies and use.

·         Weatherization. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would appropriate $200 million for the weatherization assistance program.  This funding would create 15,000 jobs (10,400 direct and 4,600 indirect) and would result in $413 in reduced first-year energy costs for the average lower-income family that receives assistance.

·         Vehicle Technology. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would provide $273 million for the vehicle technology improvements program, which funds research and development on hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, advanced batteries, and use of alternative fuel blends.  The need to invest in technologies like advanced batteries is important because nearly all the batteries made for hybrid electric vehicles are manufactured in the Pacific Rim, despite the fact that U.S. demand for hybrid vehicles is strong and much more of the research and development on the batteries takes place in the United States.

·         Solar.  The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would provide $175 million to the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Program.  This funding would further reduce the costs of solar energy technology and improve the efficiency of the technology to allow even greater market penetration. 

·         Geothermal. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would provide $44 million for geothermal energy research and development.  The funding would be used to find, access, and use the nation’s geothermal resources, which the United States Geological Survey estimate at a combined 560,000 megawatts (conventional and enhanced).

Superfund. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would allocate $1.28 billion for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund), which is $31 million more than was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2008.  The additional Superfund funding would be used to clean up the nation’s most polluted areas.  The increased is important because approximately one in four Americans live within four miles of a Superfund site and budget cuts from the previous administration reduced the annual number of site cleanups from 87 to 25.

Climate Change. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would fund important programs needed to address global climate change such as the greenhouse gas registry ($6.5 million), renewable fuels standard implementation ($8 million), and climate change research within the United States Geological Survey ($65 million).  The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would also give the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce the ability to withdraw the final rule relating to “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Special Rule for the Polar Bear.”  The legislation would also require the Environmental Protection Agency to complete its reconsideration of the California Waiver by June 30, 2009.  Combined, these actions represent some of the most important steps Congress has taken to position the nation as a leader on climate change and take the necessary first steps in improving the nation’s climate policy.

State and Tribal Assistance Grants.  The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would allocate $2.97 billion for State and Tribal Assistance Grants, which is $42 million more than was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2008.  The programs within the State and Tribal Assistance Grant account support air quality improvements, beach protection, and efforts to protect water from non-point source pollution. 

Wildland Fire Management. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would provide $2.99 billion ($2.13 billion through the Department of Agriculture and $859 million through the Department of Interior) which is $239 million (combined) more than was enacted in non-emergency spending in Fiscal Year 2008 and fully funds the ten-year fire suppression average.  This funding is important because the number fires and acreage burned have increased dramatically in the last half of the decade and without funding for appropriate prevention measures the fires can cause long-term damage to ecosystems that are not suited to recover from wildfires.

Bureau of Land Management.  The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would appropriate $1.03 billion for activities within the Bureau of Land Management, which is $30.6 million more than was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2008.  The funding that would be provided to Bureau of Land Management would be used to support conservation and wildlife habitat improvements like improved wetlands, energy management, and land resource improvements such as efforts to address invasive species.

National Wildlife Refuge System.  The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 would provide $462.8 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System, which is $28.7 million more than was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2008.  The funding provided to the National Wildlife Refuge System is important because annually more than 40 million people visit our nation’s wildlife refuges, which are critical to conserving the nation’s fish, wildlife, and flora.

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