In late April, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation to fund the Department of Energy and related agencies in fiscal year (FY) 2013. Both pieces of legislation would reduce funding from the current level. The House bill (H.R. 5325) would cut $1.3 billion more than the Senate bill (S. 2465). The difference in top line funding for the bills is also reflected in the amount of support for energy research.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science would receive a $35 million increase under the Senate proposal, bringing the program’s total funding to $4.9 billion. The House bill, however, would cut the budget for the Office of Science by $72 million.

The Senate committee report expresses concern about “the Office of Science’s lack of strategic guidance and prioritization among lower priority research activities, such as fusion energy science, nuclear physics, and high-energy physics.” The Committee directs the Office of Science to prioritize their activities in these areas and to take steps to reduce costs, including delaying construction projects and terminating research activities.

The Biological and Environmental Research within the Office of Science would receive $625.3 million (+$16 million) under the Senate bill. This is the same amount as was requested by President Obama. Included is support for the first year of the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment in the Tropics, which will study the relationship between climate change and tropical ecosystems. Conversely, the House bill would cut funding for biological research by $69 million.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would receive a $37 million increase (+13 percent) under the Senate bill. The increase would accelerate commercialization of next-energy energy technologies, according to the Senate panel. The House bill would cut $75 million (-27 percent) from the program.


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