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House bill includes $668 million for research and development


Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., toured the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown on Tuesday, following his success last week in securing House funding for the facility.

Jenkins recently authored a provision in the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill that would protect government funding for the laboratory.

“As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have the power of the purse,” Jenkins said. “Over these last several years, fossil energy research has been under attack.”

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., speaks at the National Energy Technology Laboratory about a funding bill recently passed that provided $668 million for fossil-energy research and development.
(Photo by Carter Walker)

Jenkins said that in the past two weeks others in Congress have tried to take funding out of the fossil-fuel research area, and specifically NETL, and put it into other programs.

House Bill 3219, which included funding for NETL and other laboratories, passed the House of Representatives last Thursday in a vote of 235-192.

The bill, titled the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, was primarily a defense appropriations bill with the majority of its funding going to the Department of Defense.

President Donald Trump’s border wall was also allocated $1.6 billion in the bill. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs was given $69 billion, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was given $6.16 billion.

A total of $668 million was earmarked for fossil-energy research and development, and language was specificly written into the bill to prohibit “the consolidation or closure of any National Energy Technology Laboratory such as the Morgantown NETL,” according to Jenkins’ website.

“What’s really important is that this facility is conducting research; it is doing development; it is taking ideas that are creating opportunity not only for traditional uses of coal, but for new products,” Jenkins said, citing the research NETL is doing on rare earth element extraction and carbon fiber development.

When asked if he expected any significant changes or challenges to NETL funding in a final appropriations bill, Jenkins said he hopes there would not be.

“As I understand, out of the (Senate) sub-committee on appropriations their numbers are not quite up to what we were able to achieve in the House,” Jenkins said. “But their work is not done. The sub-committee number will have to be reviewed by the full committee, and then by the full Senate.”

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