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Rep. Barton urges DOE to stop "risking billions of taxpayer dollars on unproven sources of energy"

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis/Arlington), Chairman Emeritus and senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, entered the following opening statement for the record Thursday at the Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing entitled: "The FY 2013 DOE Budget." The lone witness was Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing today to discuss "The Fiscal Year 2013 Department of Energy Budget.' I would like to welcome back Secretary Chu and I look forward to his testimony and answers to our questions.

"I heard a line this week from a friend of mine, he said that the President says he is for an "all of the above" energy policy, but in practice he's only concerned with "all of the above ground" energy -- wind and solar. When people head to work they need gas in their tanks -- so we can't turn our backs on reliable fuels, while risking billions of taxpayer dollars on unproven sources of energy.

"President Obama has requested that Congress appropriate $27.2 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) for Fiscal Year 2013. This is $856 million over the 2012 enacted level. At a time when the federal government is borrowing over 40 cents for every dollar it spends, it is critical to examine federal expenditures and your budget with increased scrutiny. Mr. Secretary, we want to make sure that the Department remembers that these billions of dollars come from hard-working Americans' pockets.

"I have been and continue to be a strong supporter of the DOE loan guarantee and grant programs to promote development of new technologies relating to a wide range of fuels and energy sources.

"What concerns me is that much of the increased funding requested in your budget is related to clean energy initiatives and advancing renewable technologies, including technologies like those associated with the now bankrupt green-energy company Solyndra. Those technologies may not be economically sustainable or a good investment for the taxpayer.

"At the same time, the Department's budget decreases funding for advancement of proven technologies, including funding for fossil fuel related research and development, and for DOE's nuclear energy program.

"Furthermore, playing venture capitalist with high-risk investments has not always proven to be successful for the DOE or the American taxpayer. Under the current Administration and your watch, we have two bankrupt green energy companies that received nearly $600 million dollars in loan guarantees under the DOE loan guarantee program. I still believe that the restructuring of the Solyndra loan violated Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act.

"How DOE's programs are administered, and how the entire Department is managed, affects the American taxpayer. The Administration's policies impacting electricity prices and gasoline prices also affect every American. I look forward to today's hearing, to your testimony, and to your answers relating to these matters."

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