WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 30-1 to advance its
$43.7 billion Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development and Related
Agencies Appropriations bill, resoundingly rejecting the Trump Administration’s
proposal to slash funding for energy, science research, and water infrastructure.
While the Trump Administration’s budget proposed
over $7 billion in cuts from energy and water programs, the bipartisan bill
advanced by the committee provides a $566 million increase above the fiscal
year 2018 level of spending.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the
Appropriations Committee, authored several key provisions in the bill that will
benefit Rhode Island
“This legislation makes
important investments in clean energy, scientific research, and protecting our
coastline and waterways. I am pleased we were able to boost weatherization
assistance, scientific research, and secure necessary funding for the Army
Corps of Engineers to move forward with important projects around the
state,” said Senator Reed.
Reed, along with U.S. Senator Susan Collins
(R-ME) included a total of $251 for Weatherization Assistance Programs (WAP) in
the bill. Through grants to states working with community partners, WAP
has successfully weatherized 7.4 million low-income homes, helping low-income
families reduce their energy bills by upgrading insulation and making
energy-saving improvements to heating, cooling, and electrical systems.
Reed also helped include language that would
prevent undue delays in distributing grants through WAP and the State Energy
Program (SEP) to state agencies and local partners that implement energy
initiatives. And he successfully included
provisions directing the U.S. Department of Energy to coordinate energy storage
efforts across the Department to maximize efficiency and expand vital research
The measure also recommends a significant
increase in the Army Corps of Engineers Continuing Authorities Program (CAP),
which provides help to address environmental restoration, harbor
infrastructure, and flood control issues throughout the country, including in
Rhode Island, bringing funding up to $53.8 million. The bill also
includes language from Reed urging the Army Corps of Engineers to consider
natural infrastructure options such as shellfish reef and natural vegetation in
projects to promote resiliency and reduce damage from coastal erosion, storm
surge, and flooding.
Reed highlighted several Rhode Island-centered
projects to be conducted by the Corps of Engineers, including $300,000 to
conduct surveys of Rhode Island’s navigational channels, ports, and harbors,
which are critical parts of the state and local economy, and $134,000 for the
inspection of federally-built projects that are now owned and operated by
non-federal agencies. Other Rhode Island-focused projects funded by the
Fox Point Hurricane Barrier - $2,335,000 for operation and maintenance of the Fox Point
Hurricane Barrier in Providence, Rhode Island, which protects downtown
Providence from hurricanes and storm surges.
Woonsocket Local Flood Protection - $1,424,000 for operation and maintenance of the Woonsocket
Local Flood Protection Project along the Blackstone River, including controlled
releases from the Woonsocket Falls Dam.
Block Island Harbor of Refuge - $2,550,000 for maintenance dredging of the Block Island
Harbor of Refuge entrance challenge and anchorage.
Great Salt Pond, Block Island - $350,000 for maintenance dredging of the entrance channel for
Great Salt Pond on the west side of Block Island.
Reed noted the inclusion of $375 million – a
$22 million increase -- for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy
(ARPA-E), a federal program that specializes in funding
high-risk, high-reward projects in renewable energy and efficiency. Brown University is currently using $3.8
million in competitive federal grant funding from ARPA-E to design and build
new energy systems that turn the energy of the tides into clean, renewable
Reed also helped include $20 million in
funding for the DOE Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
(EPSCoR), which has been critically important to supporting basic research and
research collaboration at academic institutions in Rhode Island.
Now that it has been approved by the
Appropriations Committee, the bill must be considered and voted on by the full