Colorado Democrats push Energy Department for NREL funding |

Colorado Democrats push Energy Department for NREL funding

WASHINGTON – Colorado Democrats pressed the Bush administration Thursday to fund key projects at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which they say needs more money this year and would see a cut under the president’s 2008 budget proposal.In his 2008 budget proposal, released this week, Bush decreased his request for the Golden, Colo., lab to $181.5 million from $187.5 million last year.Colorado Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette and Mark Udall and Sen. Ken Salazar have criticized Bush’s budget for the lab, saying he failed to follow through on a pledge to devote more resources to renewable energy. The lab does the nation’s primary research on renewable energy and energy efficiency.In response to DeGette’s questions about the budget during a House hearing Thursday morning, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the lab is important to the administration and promised to look out for its funding.Energy Department spokesman Craig Stevens said the lab likely would get an increase because it would benefit from a pot of money reserved for administration priorities.Separately, Salazar wrote a letter and phoned Alexander Karsner, the assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, to urge the department to direct $113 million to the lab for key equipment and planned expansions this year.”I am confident you will agree NREL must have the necessary facilities and research equipment to carry out its mission,” Salazar wrote, promising to fight for the department’s budget when the Senate debates a 2007 funding bill in the coming weeks.

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