As has been the case in recent years, the Administration's FY 2006 budget request, released February 7, continues to cut funding for energy efficiency. Overall funding would drop from $868 million in FY 2005 to $847 million in FY 2006. While this 2.5% cut may appear modest, it reflects a 15% cut from FY 2002 levels, after inflation, and masks deeper cuts in several key programs, including:
- Appliance standards—cut 19%
- Industries of the Future (Specific)—cut 42%
- Emerging Technologies (Buildings)—cut 19%
- Clean Cities—cut 39%
- Advanced Combustion Engine—cut 17%
EPA's Energy Star funding level is not yet known, as that program is not a line item in the budget, but EPA's overall budget is down by about 6%, so pressure to cut across the board is strong.
ACEEE research has made clear that energy efficiency is the nation's only real option for moderating natural gas prices in the next five years. While the energy bill contains some promising efficiency provisions, they will for the most part take several years to have an effect. DOE and EPA deployment programs, which are already active in the market, can have an immediate effect with increased funding. That's why it's important for Congress to raise the ante on the administration's request.