Thursday, August 4, 2011

Energy, environmental programs prepare for debt deal pain

Popular energy and environmental programs should prepare for a decade of spending cuts under the debt deal reached late Sunday between the White House and congressional leaders.

Less clear, however, is the effect that the landmark agreement will have on popular tax incentives for the oil, gas, renewable and other energy industries.

Constituencies fighting in the trenches for every dollar insist that their programs are small relative to other big-ticket items in the annual appropriations process. But there's still plenty of concern that everything from wastewater grants to air pollution monitoring and biofuels research and development will face the scalpel as lawmakers start cutting about $2.7 trillion in spending over the next decade.

"The numbers are just too vague, but obviously we don't feel we're in a good place," said Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“These guys are looking at 20 percent real cuts in the next two or three or four years,” said GOP strategist Mike McKenna said. “That’s a big, big hit for an agency to take.” (more)