The omnibus would provide the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fossil Energy Research and Development (R&D) program with $727 million for FY18. That would be an increase of nearly $59 million, or nine percent, from the FY17 enacted level, continuing the rapid expansion of the Fossil Energy R&D budget in recent years. The proposed FY18 appropriation would be 27 percent more than the enacted level just three years ago.
As usual in the Fossil Energy budget, the bulk of the proposed funding – $481 million – is directed toward development of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. That’s $366 million more than the President’s budget request for FY18, which asserted that DOE shouldn’t be paying for late-stage CCS development in lieu of the private sector. At the time, TCS welcomed the proposal after nearly two decades of DOE spending billions of dollars on CCS with very little to show for it.
The President’s FY19 budget reversed course to some extent, requesting $343 million for CCS, and in ignoring even the moderated cut, Congress has continued a trend dating back to the last administration. In the last four years, Congress has appropriated $94 million more for CCS than requested, on average. In the FY17 omnibus, the enacted total included $50 million specifically earmarked for CCS pilot programs, even as the act clawed back $240 million from previous failed CCS demonstration programs. DOE announced the first $6.5 million in awards from the fund in February.
This year, $35 million more is directed toward the pilot project program. Of note, the line item has been included in the general CCS pot, indicating this might become a regular occurrence.