by Shannon Michael
July 21, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) has issued a press release blasting an energy spending bill that seeks to gut funding for clean energy, including biomass and solar programs. The bill would hit San Diego hard, since it has a large concentration of clean technology companies, Davis indicated.
“San Diego has 767 clean technology companies and has become an innovation hub, especially in solar power, energy storage, and advanced biofuels,” said Davis. “If we’re going to remain competitive in the global economy, we must invest in clean energy innovation.” According to the San Diego Association of Governments, the algae energy section alone provides the region with 410 direct jobs and $108 million in economic activity each year.
The Energy and Water Appropriations bill (H.R. 2354) cuts solar energy research by more than one-third, decreases biomass research by $33 million, and cuts $80 million from funding for breakthrough domestic clean energy innovators.
“We can’t hold back the companies that can come up with the answers to our serious energy problem,” said Davis.
H.R. 2354 passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 219-196.
Among San Diego County’s Congressional delegation, Republicans Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa and Brian Bilbray voted for the measure, while Democrat Bob Filner joined Davis in voting no.
Republican Congressman Hal Rogers argued in favor of the bill, which he called “ a model of fiscal restraint” which cuts funding for “programs that are not operating up to par.” H e added, “This bill is also proof that we can make these common-sense spending reductions without damaging or impairing the programs that help keep our country safe and our citizens at work.”
Besides slashing funding for research in green technologies, the bill also cut funds for high-speed rail projects, takes away incentives for car manufacturers to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, weakens provisions of the Clean Water Act that protect consumers’ health, and curtails the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to oversee mountaintop removal of coal.
The measure now moves to the Senate. Even if passed, it faces opposition from President Obama, who has issued a statement expressing concerns over numerous provisions in the bill.