Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power on the president's budget request for Fiscal Year 2013. The administration is seeking $27.2 billion, an increase of 3.2 percent over fiscal year 2012.
Part of the increase is offset by a proposal to eliminate certain fossil-fuel subsidies. In addition, some research projects have been scaled back or eliminated.
Secretary Chu was asked about an amendment to the transportation bill that is being discussed on the Senate floor today. This amendment would bypass the President's decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and allow construction to begin immediately. The President had been pressing senators to vote no on the amendment and the secretary expressed his concern at the potential consequences of its passage. Later in the day, the Senate failed to pass the amendment, offered by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND).
He was also asked about loans to renewable energy companies, under the same program that offered a loan guarantee to Solyndra, a solar power company that went bankrupt in the fall. Secretary Chu refused to list the companies receiving loan guarantees that the Department of Energy has on a "watchlist," citing company confidentiality, but told committee members that his staff would be briefing committee staff next week on the program.