(Congress, clean energy budget cut story updated for results of Gallup poll)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The House Appropriations Committee wants to cut clean energy funding by $900 million, a sizable piece of President Obama's proposed spending on clean energy in the 2011 fiscal budget. As compared to the existing 2010 federal budget, which has roughly $200 million less in the line item for clean energy, the proposed cuts would be equal to $786 million.
When compared to either the fiscal 2010 budget or fiscal 2011 budget, the steep cuts being requested by Congress highlight the debate over clean energy spending by the federal government at a time of increased focus on the federal deficit. The big hit to clean energy funding was included in the House Appropriations Committee full release on Wednesday of its proposed budget cuts for fiscal 2011. There was also a clear focus on cutting money for renewable energy among the large list of programs being targeted by Congress.
President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget line item for "energy efficiency and renewable energy" is a request of $2.36 billion -- the 2010 budget number is $2.2 billion. The $900 million reduction in clean energy spending would represent 37.5% of the 2011 request budget request.The Appropriations Committee didn't specify where cuts were being proposed within the general clean energy and energy efficiency budget. The Obama Administration proposal of $2.36 billion in energy efficiency and renewable energy spending -- which would be administered by the Department of Energy -- was 1.6% larger than President Bush's last budget request for energy efficiency and renewable energy, according to a Senate analysis of the budget. In the Obama fiscal budget 2011, spending on solar would be increased by $55.4 million to $302.4 million, according to the Senate analysis, which would be 5.5% less than President Bush's last request for solar energy. A SunPower (SPWRA) executive was recently among the solar industry officials present for Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu's "sun shot" announcement, when the DoE announced the goal of making solar power as affordable as traditional power within a decade. The amount that DoE was talking about devoting to the "sun shot," $27 million, was relatively small compared to the budget figures now being debated by the White House and Congress. U.S. solar company First Solar (FSLR) is the low-cost leader in the solar industry, but there is a race on between First Solar, other U.S. companies including SunPower, European solar companies, and the low-cost Chinese solar companies for control of the solar marketplace. In the Obama fiscal budget 2011, spending on wind energy would be increased by $42.5 million to $122.5 million. That request is 39% larger than President Bush's last budget request for wind energy.
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