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More Water; Less Oil in the Fed Budget

111 Businesses, Organizations Oppose White House Efforts to End Federal Geothermal, Hydropower Research, Development Programs Funding

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 /U.S. Newswire/ — In a letter sent to the White House today, 111 business, environmental, faith-based, energy-policy and other organizations — joined by 50 additional individual signers — urged President Bush to restore funding to the federal geothermal and hydropower research and development programs. The administration is seeking to end support for both programs in its Fiscal Year 2008 budget request. Instead, the letter recommended that these programs be funded “at a level at least equal to that provided in Fiscal Year 2005 (FY’05), if not higher.”

The letter stated that “the nation can achieve its goals of curbing energy imports, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, stabilizing energy prices and protecting national security only if it supports the full spectrum of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies including geothermal and hydropower. Study after study has confirmed the potential of both geothermal energy and a range of hydropower technologies (both conventional and new, such as ocean wave, tidal and hydrokinetic) to address the nation’s near-term energy needs economically and in an environmentally sound manner.”

“Shutting down DOE research will set-back efforts to utilize our largely untapped geothermal resources,” said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association. “Geothermal stands as the only renewable resources of any size that can meet consumer needs for affordable baseload power, reducing the need for greater reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power. In addition, geothermal can directly contribute to hydrogen generation, clean biomass fuel conversion and other needs.”

“Exciting and cutting edge new technologies are underway in both conventional and non-conventional hydropower,” added Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association. “New technological advancements, such as ocean, tidal and in-stream power, will bring more clean, climate- friendly and renewable hydropower online at a time when the nation’s energy demands continue to grow. However, a commitment from the federal government of R&D support is needed if the hydropower industry is to reach its full potential. Without funding, this valuable work will be halted, resulting in a needless delay in the deployment of these advancements.”

The letter also noted that “the Office of Management and Budget as well as the U.S. Department of Energy are proposing that these programs be terminated next year because they are ‘mature’ technologies that can survive in the marketplace on their own. We believe this is an argument more appropriately applied to the range of fossil fuel and nuclear power programs that continue to be heavily subsidized and supported by the federal government. And while it is true that geothermal and hydropower technologies are now making important contributions to the nation’s energy supply, significantly increasing this contribution requires federal support for the development and deployment of promising new, more efficient and environmentally friendlier technologies.”

The full text of the letter and list of signers is available from the Sustainable Energy Network. Call 301-588-4741 or email: sustainable-energy-network@hotmail.com

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