Late last week, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) raked Energy Secretary Bodman over the coals — the best possible use for that fossil fuel! Within days of uncompassionately zeroing out the low-income weatherization program at a time of record energy prices, Bodman’s DOE altered the DOE website.
Until a few days ago, the website of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Weatherization Program describe the effort as “this country’s longest running, and perhaps most successful energy efficiency program” (click on “cached text” — thank you, Google). Having run EERE, I can certainly attest to the accuracy of that description. Once Bush/Bodman whacked the program, that phrase was whacked too (click here), like something out of the Ministry of Truth — Minitrue — in the book 1984.
You can see how Samuel “deer in the headlights” Bodman responded to Markey in this video clip.
Just for the record, as the website notes, over 30 years, the DOE weatherized the homes of “more than 5.5 million low-income families,” reducing:
… heating bills by 31% and overall energy bills by $358 per year at current prices. This spending, in turn, spurs low-income communities toward job growth and economic development.
So what does the administration do? Zero the program out during an economic slowdown that itself has been driven in part by record energy prices. You just cannot make stuff up!
Below is Markey’s press release and a picture of the website before and after:
Markey: DOE Strips Website Instead of Weather-stripping Windows
Weatherization Program Called “Most Successful” on Website, Then Truth Erased After Bush Eliminates Program
WASHINGTON (February 7, 2008) — The Department of Energy learned a hard lesson today on the power of the Internet that countless regretful bloggers, social networkers, and now government agencies have learned — once you post something on the internet, it tends to stay on the internet, and does not just go away.
The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming unearthed a discrepancy on DOE’s website today that directly contradicts with a recent decision by the Bush administration to completely eliminate a “most successful” (as they describe it) energy efficiency program from DOE’s budget.
On February 4, 2007, the day the President’s budget was released, the DOE website called the Weatherization Assistance program — which enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient — “this country’s longest running, and perhaps most successful energy efficiency program.” The President’s budget proposal released that day would completely eliminate the entire program.
Sometime before February 6, 2007, that sentence was completely scrubbed from DOE’s website.
Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) confronted DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman today on this change at a House hearing, holding a graphic up that showed the changes that happened sometime between early in the day this Tuesday and sometime the next day.
“Instead of insulating the poor against high energy costs, the Department of Energy is more concerned with insulating themselves against embarrassment,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey, Chairman of the Select Committee. “And while the weatherization program did a successful job at things like weather-stripping, it seems the Bush administration has failed miserably at web-stripping.”
You can find the link for the current DOE website page HERE:
You can find the cached page with the previous reference HERE:
Rep. Markey confronted Bodman today at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the proposed budget for DOE. Bodman was not aware of the accolades his department gave to the program, or the change to the website.
While no web gaffes have been unearthed as of yet with the following aspects of the President’s budget proposal, they nonetheless represent a continuation of this administration’s dirty, ill-conceived energy policies:
— High prices — yes! Low-income assistance — no! In a further blow to low-income families facing record energy bills, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a block grant program that helps the poor pay heating and air-conditioning bills, is cut by $280 million.
— So much for solar. While the President maintains that he is committed to confronting climate change and increasing America’s energy security, the proposed budget cuts $490 million, or 28 percent, from energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. Solar energy research — an initiative Bush claims is aimed at “making solar power cost-competitive with conventional electricity by 2015” — is reduced by $12 million from 2008 levels. Of the 3 programs that were cut completely in DOE’s budget, two were for renewable energy development and energy efficiency.
— Coal funding increases as climate-friendly projects are cut. A week after pulling the plug on the FutureGen coal sequestration project in Illinois, the budget for the “President’s Coal Research Initiative” rises $237 million, more than 40 percent, over 2008 levels.
— A boost in recycling … nuclear fuel. Various nuclear programs get boosted support, including the controversial Advanced Fuel Cycle Research program, which has reversed decades of U.S. policy by encouraging reprocessing of spent fuel from civilian reactors that produce weapons-grade nuclear waste. Funding for this initiative rises $123 million, or 69 percent, over 2008 levels.
This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.