Congressional lawmakers want incoming President-elect Donald Trump to reform the Department of Energy (DOE) to make it more responsive and efficient.
North Dakota Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, who serves on the Committee on Natural Resources and Committee on Science and Technology, sent a letter to Trump’s transition team outlining how the DOE could be reformed and modernized.
Cramer’s proposals include funding DOE research programs by results instead of technology type, diverting money from wind and solar subsidies into basic research, focus on exporting energy and reorganizing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the DOE.
Congressional lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are outraged by recent behavior by DOE officials — who withheld information from Congress to advance President Barack Obama’s global warming plans, an investigation concluded. The investigation found that agency officials fired an employee for honestly answering Congressional staff’s questions. This has led to a debate over how to reform the agency and what its mission should be.
“The mission of the Department is to provide science and technology solutions for energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges, but only 37% of the DOE’s roughly $30 billion budget is designated for science and energy programs,” states the letter. “Consequently, advocates for reform argue the DOE should focus on its core mission: energy innovation. For example, carbon capture and utilization technology solutions are critical to revitalizing coal and other fossil fuel related jobs.”
Cramer thinks the DOE should spend research budgets by outcomes, which would give the agency greater flexibility to set big goals as well as allowing it to redirect funding to where it makes the most sense. The Department of Energy plans to spend $8.5 billion next year on global warming-related research next year, which is roughly comparable to the amount it spends on energy innovation.
Cramer also wants Trump to reorganize the EPA under the DOE, as that agency has also attempted to dodge congressional oversight. The agency would be rolled into the DOE, potentially saving billions of dollars and improving governmental efficiency.