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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on Energy and Water Development Appropriations

Carl E. Behrens, Coordinator
Specialist in Energy Policy

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies. 

Funding for the Corps attracts wide interest among Members of Congress. Most appropriations for the Corps' civil works activities are directed to specific projects. Many of these projects are identified in the budget request and others are added during congressional deliberations of the agency's appropriations. As a result, the agency's funding is often part of the debate over earmarks. 

In addition to regular appropriations, the Corps in recent years has received considerable funding in supplemental appropriations, particularly for hurricane protection work in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. In addition, the Corps received extra funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). 

The Bureau of Reclamation built or assisted building most of the large dams and water diversion structures in the West. BOR's mission was to develop water supplies, primarily for irrigation to reclaim arid lands in the West. Today, BOR manages hundreds of dams and diversion projects. BOR facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. At the same time, operations of BOR facilities are often controversial, particularly for their effect on fish and wildlife species and conflicts among competing water users 

The largest share of Energy and Water Development funding goes to DOE, an agency with an extremely diverse combination of missions. In addition to energy supply and conservation programs, DOE maintains the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and funds several Power Marketing Administrations that distribute power generated at federal hydropower facilities. It is the third largest federal funder of basic research, conducting basic science research in six program areas. The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency within DOE, maintains the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. DOE also has a large program to decontaminate and clean up sites where nuclear weapons were produced in the past. 

The Congress and the Obama Administration have shifted the emphasis of DOE's energy programs with massive increases in funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, both in the regular appropriations bills and in the ARRA. DOE's weapons site cleanup program also received a large appropriation in ARRA, as did science programs.

Date of Report: January 12, 2010
Number of Pages: 3
Order Number: IS40651
Price: $0.00 (This is the whole Report less Issue Team Members)

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