WASHINGTON - West Virginia's Republican congressmen Thursday were critical of funding cuts to two federal programs.
Rep. David McKinley, R-1st, said research at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown is critical and he criticized the administration's proposed funding reductions for the agency.
"The work NETL is doing on carbon capture, chemical looping, shale gas research and other projects is vitally important," McKinley said. "America will continue to need fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, and the research done in Morgantown plays an important role in moving our economy forward."
McKinley and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz last week toured the lab which scientists are researching carbon capture, chemical looping, shale gas research, enhanced oil recovery and environmental restoration.
"We were encouraged to hear Secretary Moniz say that coal 'would be in our energy future for decades' and recognize the important work being done at NETL," McKinley said. "However, his message is in direct contrast to what the Obama administration has done with its actions."
Fossil fuels are 80 percent of the nation's energy, but only 20 percent of research and development, he said.
President Obama has proposed funding the laboratory for $421 million for this year, it is short of its operating budget of $649 million, McKinley said.
"If funding to this critical energy lab continues to be cut, NETL will not be able to carry out its mission," McKinley said.
In other budget issues, McKinley and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., introduced an amendment Wednesday to the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act to restore $350 million to the Community Development Block Grant program. The amendment was passed by a House vote.
The budget has been reduced by $1.3 billion from last year and the reductions will impact communities, she said.
"With our national debt approaching $17 trillion, it is critical that Congress tighten its belt and direct limited resources to the most important priorities," she said.
"I believe that funding for CDBG is a high priority."