USA — The White House released a 2013 budget request yesterday that would increase funding for climate change and clean energy programs at several agencies even as it seeks to rein in overall spending to comply with spending limits set by the Budget Control Act enacted last year.
While the request is largely symbolic, released at the beginning of an election year to a Congress that has found little common ground with the Obama administration, it does offer a window into White House thinking on climate and energy issues.
The president’s proposal would increase spending at the Energy Department to $27.2 billion, 3.2 percent above the 2012 level.
The White House request includes a 27.3 percent increase, to $350 million, for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which is designed to fund high-risk, high-reward research projects in areas like energy storage, alternative fuels and emissions reductions.
DOE’s Energy and Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) program would also receive a significant boost, up 29 percent, to $2.3 billion.
Note by GFMC editing: In the following only the wildland-fire related section of this report is archived:
The Forest Service would receive $4.86 billion under the White House’s 2013 request, a $15.5 million increase over the 2012 enacted level.
Funds for wildland fire management would increase by $236 million above current levels, to $1.97 billion. The preparedness budget will drop by $2.9 million, due to a decrease in the cost of readiness resources. For example, the Forest Service plans to replace its old, large airtankers with more efficient ones to fight fires, at an initial cost of $24 million proposed in the 2013 request.
Much of the wildfire funding, along with money for other climate change programs like wildlife management and watershed adaptation, is included in the $793 million proposed for the Integrated Restoration (IRR) fund, $12 million less than the 2012 enacted level.
This reflects a shift from line-item proposals for specific projects to a more integrated approach, said David Cleaves, climate change adviser to Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell.
“This is a structural change in the budget as well as an increase,” said Cleaves. “What it does for climate change it allows us to do more rapid adaptation treatments at a more rapid scale.”
Treatments include trimming fast-burning trees and applying prescribed fire to avoid out-of-control wildfires. The budget will continue to fund the 10-year average cost of controlling fires, and commit resources to the wildland-urban interface communities close to forested areas that at high risk of wildfire damage.