This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) that would have increased funding by $450 million for “ARPA-E,” a program that funds research and development of clean energy technology (such as wind and solar energy). At the same time, the amendment would have cut $450 million from research and development of fossil fuel-based energy (such as oil and gas). This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Energy Department programs and the Army Corps of Engineers in fiscal year 2012.
Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) urged support for his amendment: “The reason for the amendment is that we have to move off the 19th-century fuel, that is, coal and oil, and move to future energy sources, one of which I talked about a few moments ago, that is, the nuclear. The other energy sources are out there. We discussed on this floor here over the last hour the issue of solar. There are fuels, advanced biofuels. There are also wind, solar, wave, geothermal. All of these are being advanced at this time by the ARPA-E program within the Department of Energy. That's where the future is. Now, we can make a choice here about staying with the past and trying to figure out how to create clean coal, which is probably the oxymoron of the century, or we can simply shift our resources to look at other energy sources, and that's what we have to do.”
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) opposed Garamendi’s amendment: “…Our colleague's amendment would add funding to ARPA-E, which receives some $100 million in our bill; but the way he would do it would be virtually to eliminate funding for the Fossil Energy Research and Development program, I think causing excessive job losses. And I think the program makes major contributions. Of course we can't forget that fossil fuels, coal, and natural gas generate about 70 percent of our Nation's electricity. ARPA-E may someday generate a much greater percentage than perhaps it potentially does today, but we're a long way from there. So I oppose the gentleman's amendment and certainly the source, using the Fossil Fuels account for this additional money, that he suggests.”
The House rejected Garamendi’s amendment by a vote of 145-276. Voting “yea” were 141 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 4 Republicans. 233 Republicans and 43 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have increased funding by $450 million for research and development of clean energy technology (such as wind and solar energy), and would also have cut $450 million from research and development of fossil fuel-based energy (such as oil and gas).