This vote was on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would have reduced administrative funding for the Energy Department by $14 million. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds energy and water development programs in fiscal 2010.
Coburn said the Energy Department’s own inspector general has found that the agency is not as efficient as it could be with its energy usage. He said this amendment would strike $14 million from the agency’s funding, which Coburn said is equal to the amount it is estimated that the agency wastes on inefficient energy usages in a year.
“At the Department of Energy, one of its tasks in this country is to help us with energy efficiency, to help us with a lot of what we would expect to be within the Department of Energy. It is peculiar, however, when the Department of Energy has looked at themselves, they are highly inefficient, according to their own inspector general, with the utilization of energy,” Coburn said. “Isn’t it ironic that the very agency that is telling all the rest of the agencies to save money by becoming efficient with their computers, by becoming efficient with their heating and cooling systems, by becoming efficient with their utilization of lighting, does not even follow their rules they ask the rest of the agencies to follow.”
Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said he appreciated Coburn’s sentiment but that the bill already cuts funding for the Energy Department, and that to cut more would be wrong.
“I agree that what we ought to be doing is encouraging the Department of Energy—all Departments—to be engaged in energy savings and efficiencies and so on. But, as I said, we already made substantial cuts,” Dorgan said.
By a vote of 35-62, the amendment was rejected. Of Republicans present, 30 voted for the amendment and 10 voted against it. All but five Democrats present voted against the amendment. The end result is that an amendment that would have cut $14 million from the Energy Department’s administrative account to penalize the agency for wasting energy was defeated.