Energy Secretary Steven Chu set out this year to address America’s energy future with a network of new research labs. But lawmakers drafted their own blueprint: Instead of fully funding Dr. Chu’s request, an energy-spending bill sets aside millions of dollars for such projects as an aviation-research institute, an environmentally friendly locomotive and air conditioning for a New Jersey museum.When President Barack Obama signed a spending bill for the 2009 fiscal year in March, he said he wanted earmark-laden legislation to be an “end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability.”
All told, the bill would provide $445 million for “congressionally directed projects” at DOE. That’s a decline of 5.9% from the 2009 fiscal year, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But factoring out defense-related portions of the agency’s budget, earmarks at the department would total $421 million in fiscal 2010, an 8.4% increase from 2009, the group says.
“No one expects Congress to simply rubber stamp a budget with no changes,” a DOE spokesman said. “We’re pleased that members of both parties and both houses have worked quickly to produce a budget . . . that reflects our shared commitment to energy independence and creating the clean energy economy of the future.”
Mr. Obama is expected to sign the legislation.