WASHINGTON DC -- The White House Fiscal Year 2006 (FY06) budget request for the U.S. Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy

(EE/RE) programs has once again been reduced, this time by nearly $50 million - an overall cut of roughly 4%.

The bottom-line total, however, masks far deeper cuts in a number of sustainable energy budgets:

* Distributed Energy cut 6% ($60,416 to $56,629);
* Geothermal Energy cut 8% ($25,270 to $23,299);
* Energy Efficient Buildings cut 11% ($65,464 to $57,966);
* Biomass/Biofuels cut 18% ($88,099 to $72,164);
* Industrial Energy Efficiency cut 24% ($74,801 to $56,489); and
* Hydropower cut 90% ($4,862 to $500)
[numbers all expressed in thousands].

The overall EE/RE reductions appear less drastic only because of significant increases for the hydrogen program (5%: $94,066 to 99,094) and the fuel cells program (12%: $74,944 to $83,600).

The Sustainable Energy Coalition supports both fuel cell and renewable hydrogen development and has advocated funding increases for them as well as an overall doubling of the federal sustainable energy budget over the next five years. However, the Sustainable Energy Coalition strongly opposes cutting key efficiency and renewable energy programs or skewing funding towards just a handful of technologies currently favored by the Administration.

With this request, the Administration is continuing its policy of slowly bleeding the budgets for most of its core renewable energy and energy efficiency programs with cut after cut after cut -- a policy that ignores the consumer, job creation, national security, and rural economic development benefits of sustainable energy technologies.

The United States is now facing rising oil and natural gas prices and imports with negative consequences for the economy and national trade deficit, rapidly worsening climate change plus other energy-related environmental problems, and increasing evidence of the public health impacts of fossil energy use.

For all of these reasons, the White House's penny-wise, pound-foolish budget request for DOE's sustainable energy programs reflects misplaced priorities and is:

* bad for jobs, the economy, and the development of new basic industries;
* bad for homeland and national security;
* bad for the environment, and
* bad for public health

The Sustainable Energy Coalition will therefore work with Members of the U.S. Congress to restore, if not increase, funding for those programs proposed for cuts. Moreover, the Sustainable Energy Coalition will explore options for new revenue sources to ensure consistent and stable support in the future for research, development, and commercialization of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies with a focus on deployment. This is essential to keep the US from falling further behind European and Asian nations in advancing and developing sustainable energy industries.

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The Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of 85 national and state business, consumer, environmental, and energy policy organizations which collectively represent several thousand companies and community-based groups. Founded in 1992, the Sustainable Energy Coalition works to promote increased use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.

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