Weeks after pledging major investments in renewable energy, President George W. Bush is calling for cuts at Colorado's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, drawing complaints Monday from two of the state's Democratic lawmakers.
A centerpiece of Bush's State of the Union speech this year was a 20 percent cut in gasoline use by 2017 made possible in part by increasing the use of renewable fuels.
Colorado's Democratic lawmakers criticized Bush's proposed budget, delivered to Congress on Monday, for increasing spending on fossil fuel and nuclear development while cutting the Energy Department's renewable research lab by 3 percent.
Bush's proposed budget would decrease funding for the Golden, Colo., lab to $181.5 million from $187.5 million, they said. The lab does the nation's primary research on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"Where is the balance in this budget, and where is the dedication to energy independence?" asked Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo. "The president needs to walk his talk, and if he will not, I will work with the new Congress to increase funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Energy independence is so critical to our national security, our energy security and our economy that we cannot afford to shortchange programs that will move us forward."
Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar said he toured the lab with Bush less than a year ago. Now, Salazar said he was disappointed to see Bush proposing cuts in wind energy by $9 million and solar energy by $7 million "despite the promise these technologies hold in helping rural communities diversify their economies."
The Democratic-controlled Congress will hash out the budget in the coming months. Much of Bush's spending plan is expected to change.
"This is just the beginning of the process," said Laura Condeluci, spokeswoman for Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., who is a member of the budget and appropriations committees. "We'll have a chance to affect change at a couple of levels."
Last year, President Bush visited the energy lab in Golden, but his visit was marred by the fact that some employees had been laid off just before his visit due to budget cuts he approved.
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