Casey: Proposed $87M in Cuts to NETL Could Stymie Natural Gas Development, Hurt Job Growth in Western Pennsylvania and Across Commonwealth

Senator Joined By County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to Push to Restore NETL Funds / In Letter to Key Officials, Casey Makes Case for NETL’s role in Natural Gas Development and Coal R&D

Casey: Proposed $87M in Cuts to NETL Could Stymie Natural Gas Development, Hurt Job Growth in Western Pennsylvania and Across Commonwealth

Pittsburgh, PA- With a month to go before Congress’ budget deadline, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), today, made a push to restore $87 million in proposed cuts to the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Pittsburgh. Senator Casey unveiled a letter to key Senate officials and was joined by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. They made the case that the NETL has played a crucial role in natural gas development and clean coal technologies, creating thousands of jobs across the state, boosting the economy in Western Pennsylvania, and improving energy practices throughout the United States.

“Natural gas development and new coal technologies will allow Pennsylvanians to control our economic and energy destiny,” Senator Casey said. “Now is not the time to cut back on vital investments that help move natural development and coal forward and will ultimately lead to more job creation and economic growth.”

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be seen below:

August 21, 2013

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

As the full Senate moves forward with consideration of the bills that will fund discretionary federal programs in the upcoming fiscal year, I write to convey my support for providing essential resources for the Nation’s premier fossil energy research facility, the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). I appreciate that the Senate Committee on Appropriations provided $420.5M for NETL in the Fiscal Year 2014 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. I also wish to express my concern about the drastic cuts to our Nation’s critical R&D. Unfortunately, the Senate bill is about $87M less than last year. Federal funding allows NETL to carry out its responsibility to support DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States. Any funding decline will negatively impact our future energy preparedness. 

NETL is DOE’s only federally owned and operated lab. NETL hosts a facility in Pittsburgh with over 670 federal and support employees in Pennsylvania. There are also facilities in Morgantown, WV and Albany, OR. The overall NETL operations provide more than $200 million in economic impacts to these local communities.

NETL implements a broad spectrum of energy and environmental research and development (R&D) programs that will return benefits for generations to come, such as enabling cleaner technologies to be applied to domestic coal, natural gas, and oil to economically power our Nation’s homes, industries, businesses and transportation, while protecting our environment and enhancing our energy independence. NETL has received numerous licensable patents and has won multiple awards for their technology developments and research.

NETL has provided a century of energy innovation and plays a key role as the only fossil fuel-focused laboratory in the national system and leads the nation in carbon capture research. As the Administration has recently announced a series of Executive Actions to reduce carbon emissions, NETL is best positioned to respond to related R&D projects directly impacting these fuels, technologies and programs. Funding for NETL needs to be maintained, if not expanded for the following types of critical programs: 

  • Continue R&D of various technologies, critical to meeting the DOE long-term transformational goals.  
  • To meet the Clean Coal Research Program’s 2020 targets. 
  • Program funding needs are high priority near-term research in the areas of Monitoring, Verification and Accounting (or MVA) for Carbon Storage. 
  • Scale-up the DOE National Carbon Capture Center pilot testing capability, which needs continued R&D under the carbon capture program.  
  • Sustain programs directly contributing to increased power plant efficiency & reliability along with reduced CO2 emissions.
  • Reduce the cost of clean power with carbon capture from coal and natural gas, to continue to develop advanced systems, and near zero emissions cleaning technologies. 
  • Investigate novel concepts for liquid fuels production to reduce product cost, and improve environmental benefits (compared to oil refining) by mixing coal with other fuels such as biomass and natural gas.
  • Continue Next Generation CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Research including field demonstrations of the nation's domestic oil sands/oil shale/unconventional oil.
  • Unconventional oil processing including cost-effective and environmentally safe development, with particular focus on water,
  • Support R&D for best-in-class production technologies to further reduce the cost of CO2 capture & utilization, and to support co-production of power, fertilizer and/or liquid fuels.

Reductions to this funding place the number of projects at risk that can be accomplished in support of infrastructure compliant with safety, health and environmental regulations. There will be struggles to maintain plans to meet goals required by various laws. Reductions will require a re-prioritization of funds for projects and will limit the full implementation to achieve energy transformation requirements to maintain our energy independence and economy. Reductions will require an extended time period to complete the implementation planned for fossil energy operations to meet safety, health and environmental regulations. It is critical that we continue this commitment by providing adequate funding in the fiscal year ahead.

As the Senate moves toward consideration of this and other appropriations measures, I urge you to continue to provide funding for the National Energy Technology Lab at the level need to protect jobs and prepare for America’s energy future. Thank you for your consideration of my concerns. 

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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