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Oral Testimony of Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the House Energy and Commerce Committee - As Prepared for Delivery

March 16, 2011 - 12:00am

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Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Waxman, Mr. Barton, Mr. Dingell and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the President's Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for the Department of Energy.


I want to begin by expressing the Administration's support for the people of Japan, as well as American citizens in Japan, as they respond to and recover from the tragic events of the past few days. 


Officials from the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and other agencies have maintained close contact with Japanese officials and have provided the Japanese government with expertise in a variety of areas.


As part of that effort, the Department of Energy has sent two experts to Japan to provide advice and technical assistance.


We are positioning Consequence Management Response Teams at U.S. Consulates and military installations in Japan. These teams have the skills, expertise and equipment to help assess, survey, monitor and sample areas.  They include smaller groups that could be sent out to gather technical information in the area.


We have sent our Aerial Measuring System capability, including detectors and analytical equipment used to provide assessments of contamination on the ground. 


In total, the DOE team includes 39 people with more than 17,000 pounds of equipment.


The Department is also monitoring activities through the DOE Nuclear Incident Team and is employing assets at its National Laboratories to provide ongoing predictive atmospheric modeling capabilities based on a variety of scenarios.


The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly. Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the Administration is committed to learning from Japan's experience as we work to continue to strengthen America's nuclear industry. 


Safety remains at the forefront of our effort to responsibly develop America's energy resources, and we will continue to incorporate best practices and lessons learned into that process.


To meet our energy needs, the Administration believes we must rely on a diverse set of energy sources including renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power.  We look forward to a continued dialogue with Congress on moving that agenda forward.


Now, I would like to turn to the budget. 


President Obama has a plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world, while at the same time addressing the deficit.  The President's budget makes tough choices, cutting in many areas while recognizing that we must invest in strategic areas like clean energy innovation that will create jobs and strengthen competitiveness.


To that end, President Obama has called for increased investments in clean energy research, development and deployment.  In addition, he has proposed a bold but achievable goal of generating 80 percent of America's electricity from clean sources by 2035. 


A Clean Energy Standard will provide a clear, long-term signal to industry to bring capital off the sidelines and into the clean energy sector.  The government does not need to pick favorites - the most competitive clean energy sources will win in the marketplace.


The Department of Energy's FY 12 budget request of $29.5 billion supports the President's goals.  Defense-related activities such as non-proliferation and cleaning up Cold War sites account for roughly half of our budget.  The other half, which includes energy and science programs, is also critical to national security in addition to economic competitiveness.


Through energy efficiency programs, we will save money for consumers by saving energy.  In addition, the budget supports the research, development and deployment of renewable energy, the modernization of the electric grid and the advancement of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.  And it helps reduce our dependence on oil by developing the next generation of biofuels and accelerating electric vehicle research and deployment. 


The budget supports loan guarantees for renewable and energy efficiency technologies.  Nuclear energy also has an important role to play in our energy portfolio.  The budget requests up to $36 billion in loan guarantee authority to help deploy a new generation of American nuclear reactors.  It also invests in the research and development of advanced nuclear technologies. 


The President's budget invests in basic and applied research and keeps us on the path to doubling funding for key science agencies, including the Office of Science. 


The budget invests $550 million in the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.  The Administration also seeks an additional $100 million for ARPA-E as part of the President's Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative. 


This investment will allow ARPA-E to continue the promising early-stage research projects that aim to deliver game-changing clean energy technologies. 


Another key piece of our research effort is the Energy Innovation Hubs.  The Hubs bring together our nation's top scientists and engineers to achieve similar game-changing energy goals, but where a concentrated effort over a longer time horizon is needed to establish innovation leadership.  The budget requests $146 million to support the three existing Hubs and to establish three new Hubs.


Finally, the budget supports the Energy Frontier Research Centers, which are mostly university-led teams working to solve specific scientific problems that are blocking clean energy development.


To reach our energy goals, we must take a portfolio approach to R&D: pursuing several research strategies that have proven to be successful in the past. But this is not a "kitchen sink" approach. This work is being coordinated and prioritized, with a 360-degree view of how the pieces fit together. Together, these initiatives will help America lead in innovation.  


In addition to strengthening our economy, the budget request also strengthens our security by providing $11.8 billion for the Department's National Nuclear Security Administration. 


The Department is mindful of our responsibility to the taxpayer.  We are cutting back in multiple areas, including eliminating unnecessary fossil fuel subsidies.  We are streamlining operations.  And we're making some tough choices, like freezing salaries and bonuses for hard-working National Laboratory, site and facility management contractor employees.


The United States faces a choice today: will we out-compete the rest of the world or will we fall behind?  To lead the world in clean energy, we must act now.   We can't afford not to. 


Thank you, and now I am pleased to answer any questions you may have.


Media contact(s):


(202) 586-4940

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