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News Link • Continental Congress 2009

Earmarks Sap Energy Chief's Priorities

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."
Congress, however, hasn't given up earmarks -- the term for seemingly parochial projects funded at the behest of lawmakers.v

Overall, the legislation provides the department with $27.1 billion, $1.3 billion less than Mr. Obama and Dr. Chu sought. To achieve those savings, lawmakers slashed Dr. Chu's request to fund eight new research-and-development labs, at a cost of $280 million. The legislation would allow the department to fund three of the labs Dr. Chu wants, but largely with money from other parts of DOE's budget.

Lawmakers say their proposals are consistent with the goals of U.S. energy policy.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D., W. Va.), who championed a plan to spend $1.25 million on a study of coal liquefaction in China, has said it could help the U.S. "better pursue coal-to-liquids transportation fuels projects." Environmentalists say emissions associated with liquefied coal exacerbate climate change.

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