Energy Subsidies

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Chris Edwards

February 2009

Overview
Yucca Mountain
Clinch River Breeder Reactor
National Ignition Facility
Environmental Mismanagement
Superconductor Supercollider
National Laboratory Mismanagement
Synthetic Fuels Corporation
Clean Coal
FutureGen
Alternative Fuel Vehicles
 

Overview

The energy industry has been heavily regulated and subsidized by the federal government for decades. The Department of Energy's array of subsidy programs grew out of atomic research efforts of the 1950s, responses to the energy crisis of the 1970s, and concerns about conservation and global warming in recent decades.

The department spends about $9 billion annually on civilian energy research and subsidies. The following are some of the major program areas with the 2008 spending levels listed:

  • Science. This $3.9 billion program area funds research on such activities as high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion energy.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewables. This $1.5 billion program area funds research into hydrogen power, solar power, wind power, weatherization, vehicle technologies, and other activities.
  • Fossil Energy Research. This $646 million program area funds research into coal, oil, and natural gas technologies.
  • Nuclear Energy. This $695 million program area funds civilian nuclear energy research.
  • Electricity Delivery. This $157 million program area funds research into electricity transmission.

Federal energy research should be phased-out as an unneeded cost in an era of massive government budget deficits. The private sector is entirely capable of performing research into coal, nuclear, solar, and alternative energy sources for itself. Businesses will fund new technologies when there is a reasonable chance of commercial success, as they do in every other private industry. Federal subsidies may even be actively damaging to our energy future by steering markets in the wrong direction, away from the best long-term energy solutions.

Federal energy research has a poor track record. With regard to fossil fuels research, for example, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded: "Federal programs have had a long history of funding fossil-fuel technologies that, although interesting technically, had little chance of commercial implementation. As a result, much of the federal spending has not been productive."1 That is a polite way of saying that these programs have been a waste of taxpayer money.

This essay discusses the record of waste and mismanagement in Department of Energy projects during recent decades. The number of major spending boondoggles in this department is remarkable. The problem is that departmental leaders and members of Congress have shown an unfortunate urge to try and centrally plan the energy sector. But they have been responsible for throwing tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money down the drain on projects of little value.

Policymakers often make grandiose promises, such as proposing to make America "energy independent" or to convert the nation to a "green economy." Those visions don't make any sense, but even if they did history shows that the Department of Energy would be incapable of putting them into place with any degree of competence. Federal energy schemes are often poorly managed and generate huge cost overruns, or they aim at objectives that make little economic sense, as the following case studies illustrate.
 

Yucca Mountain

For decades, the federal government has struggled with the issue of storing waste from commercial nuclear reactors and defense-related nuclear activities. The government has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year in planning for nuclear waste disposal, but the creation of a permanent storage site is years behind schedule, and many issues are still unresolved.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 aimed to create a permanent disposal site for radioactive waste by 1998. After many studies, Yucca Mountain in Nevada was chosen as the single national disposal site in 1987, and engineers and construction crews went to work.2 Today, the ongoing project has cost $10 billion, and the Yucca Mountain site will not be operational for at least another decade or so, if it ever is because of continued political opposition.3

To fund the project, the 1982 Act created a fee on all nuclear electric utilities charged on the basis of kilowatt hours generated. The fee currently generates about $760 million annually for the Nuclear Waste Fund, which by 2008 had accumulated a balance of $22 billion. But this fund is just an accounting entry—the utility charges have actually gone to the U.S. Treasury and been spent on other federal activities, not on the storage of nuclear waste.4

Thus, we have a bizarre situation whereby electricity utilities and their customers are paying a $760 million tax annually to store nuclear waste at Yucca, but that storage will not happen for the foreseeable future. Obviously, utilities are not happy with the situation and they have sued the government over the fees. The department calculates that federal taxpayers are currently liable for $7 billion to the nation's electric utilities, but that number will likely balloon to tens of billions of dollars.5

The project schedule at Yucca Mountain keeps slipping back and the project's full cost estimate keeps rising. Just between 2001 and 2007 the project's total life-cycle cost estimate increased from $70 billion to $96 billion, measured in constant 2007 dollars.6

It is true that the issue of nuclear waste is complex, but federal mismanagement and the indecisiveness by Congress have created many problems. Amazingly, despite $10 billion already being spent on Yucca Mountain, Nevada Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other policymakers are promising to completely kill the project. Indeed, the Obama administration announced in 2009 that it would close the Yucca facility.
 

Clinch River Breeder Reactor

The Clinch River Breeder Reactor was an experimental nuclear fission power plant project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee that cost taxpayers $1.7 billion and produced nothing. Upon its launch in the early 1970s, Clinch River was hailed as a way to create energy independence, as it would create an inexhaustible energy supply, like a perpetual motion machine.7 The project lasted 12 years until it was finally killed from a combination of technical problems, a huge escalation in costs, and opposition by environmentalists.

The project was authorized in 1970 and Congress first appropriated funds in 1972. In 1971, the Atomic Energy Commission, which pushed the project, estimated that it would cost $400 million. The next year the cost estimate jumped to $699 million. The costs kept rising over the years, and by 1983 estimates of the project's full cost had ballooned to more than $4 billion.8

Management of Clinch River was hampered by disagreements between Congress and the Department of Energy over the project's objectives.9 Another problem was that the economic viability of the project was based on assumptions about future uranium price increases, and project supporters failed to rethink the project for years after the uneconomic nature of it became obvious.10

In the end, the combination of bad economics, environmental problems, and cost overruns gave the upper hand to project opponents in Congress, and funding was cut off by a fairly narrow vote in the Senate. The total cost to taxpayers was $1.7 billion, which is roughly equivalent to $3.4 billion today.11

The politics of Clinch River were interesting, given that many people think that the Democrats are the party of big government and Republicans the party of spending restraint. Clinch River was supported by the Reagan administration and by Republican Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, who was majority leader in the 1980s. The project was strongly opposed by the Carter Administration, but it did not have the political strength to kill it in the 1970s.
 

National Ignition Facility

In 1993, Congress approved the construction of the National Ignition Facility, which is designed to research nuclear fusion. When completed, the NIF will focus about 200 high-power lasers at a small point in an effort to generate a huge release of energy. The stadium-sized project is housed at the federal Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

The NIF has been horribly managed. It is at least seven years behind schedule, and the estimated total cost has ballooned from about $2.1 billion to at least $4.2 billion.12 The project started running tests in 2009, but the facility may not be fully operational until 2020.13

In 2000, the GAO concluded that "NIF's cost increases and schedule delays were caused by poor Lawrence Livermore management and inadequate DOE oversight."14 Some senior NIF budget and technical officials had little adequate experience, and some top managers deceived DOE and Congress about the progress they claimed they were making.15
 

Environmental Mismanagement

In the 1980s, a series of critical reports rocked the Department of Energy regarding its extremely lax safety and environmental standards, particularly at its nuclear-related sites. For decades, dozens of the department's facilities across the country had been despoiling the natural environment with little notice taken by the department or Congress. But that changed in the 1980s and taxpayers have since spent tens of billion of dollars cleaning up the mess from the department's toxic legacy.

In 1985, a government report by a former environmental official at Energy called the department's environmental, health, and safety shortcomings a "disgrace."16 In 1987, a department undersecretary testified to Congress that there was an "enormous legacy of misuse of the environment" with respect to the department's nuclear weapons activities.17 In 1988, a study by the National Research Council estimated that it would cost up to $100 billion or more to clean up the department's contaminated nuclear weapons sites.18 In 1989, continuing revelations caused then Energy Secretary James Watkins to declare that the "chickens had come home to roast" with regard to the department's decades of environmental mismanagement.

An enormous cleanup effort was launched in the 1980s that is still going on today and will continue for years to come. By the mid-1990s, environmental cleanup became the department's largest spending activity, comprising one-third of the agency's budget.19 More than $60 billion has been spent on the department's cleanup efforts over the last two decades, and taxpayers are still paying more than $5 billion annually through the Office of Environmental Management (OEM).20

Not surprisingly, the department has proved to be incapable of spending so much money efficiently. In 1994, Senator Bennett Johnson called the department's efforts "a grand and glorious mess … no function of government has been as mismanaged as our waste cleanup."21 While cleanup at 74 of the 114 sites had been completed by 2003, DoE estimated that the costs of remaining sites will exceed $220 billion over 70 years.22

Huge cost overruns have been common at OEM cleanup projects. A 2008 GAO report concluded that nine out of 10 major cleanup projects "have experienced cost increases and schedule delays in their life cycle baseline, ranging from $139 million for one project to more than $9 billion for another, and schedule delays ranging from 2 years to 15 years."23 Here are some of the notable mismanaged projects:

  • Idaho National Laboratory.  Established in 1949, this laboratory has been involved in key developments in atomic energy and reactor designs. Clean-up at this site is currently costing taxpayers about $500 million annually.24
  • Hanford Site. The largest of the defense production sites founded as part of the Manhattan Project, the decommissioned Hanford Site in Hanford, Washington, is the largest environmental cleanup project in the country. A waste treatment plant at the site has ballooned in cost from $4.3 billion in 2000 to $12.2 billion in 2008.25 There is continuing concern that the site is contaminating the nearby Columbia River. While the DoE has taken steps to improve its efforts, management of the site still falls short.26 Cleanup at this site is currently costing taxpayers about $1.9 billion annually.27
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory. A major laboratory primarily funded by the DoE, Brookhaven conducts nuclear, energy, and national security research. It has experienced leaks of radioactive material that went undetected for years, yet DoE held no one accountable.28
  • Rocky Flats Plant. A major site of nuclear weapons production in Colorado, Rocky Flats was at the center of a major investigation by the FBI in the late 1980's. Senior executives at DoE were accused of covering up and lying about the dangerous and illegal toxic-waste practices at the plant.29 Despite multiple health and safety concerns, DoE awarded millions in bonuses to poorly performing contractors during the 1980s and early 1990s.30 The Rocky Flats cleanup was completed in 2005, costing taxpayers $7 billion.31
  • Savannah River Site. Located in South Carolina, Savannah River was built as a refinement site for use in nuclear weapons. Environmental issues have plagued the site over the years, including possible contamination of the water source for the site and surrounding areas as well as a negligent culture of safety.32 Cleanup at this site is currently costing taxpayers about $1.1 billion annually.33
     

Superconducting Super Collider

A 1983 Department of Energy panel recommended the building of the world's largest particle accelerator, and with Ronald Reagan's approval in 1987, the Superconducting Super Collider project was launched.

Development of the Superconducting Super Collider at a site near Dallas, Texas was mired in mismanagement. All of the major subcontractors fell behind schedule and ran over budget. The department had no functioning cost-tracking system and provided little oversight for the poorly performing contractors.34

At launch in 1987, the Secretary of Energy estimated that the project would cost taxpayers $4.4 billion.35 By 1989, the cost estimate had jumped to $5.9 billion, and by 1991 the cost estimate had jumped to $8.2 billion.36

Adding to these problems, the project had received almost none of the $1.7 billion planned foreign contributions that had been budgeted.37 In the end, Congress determined that the SSC was consuming an enormous amount of federal funds relative to the probability that it would produce useable scientific knowledge or technology.38 Congress killed the SSC in late 1993, after spending about $2 billion, and after seeing the total estimated cost almost triple to $11.8 billion.39 But taxpayers were still on the hook for expenses related to shutting down the project of more than $700 million.40
 

National Laboratory and Technology Centers Mismanagement

The National Labs are a group of federally funded facilities and laboratories that are overseen by the DoE. Most are operated under contract, while a few remain under direct government operation.41

Many of the national labs have suffered from poor management. We discussed the problem of chronic cost overruns in some lab projects elsewhere in this essay. Another problem has been the poor physical and cyber security records of some of the labs.

Classified nuclear weapons information from Los Alamos National Laboratory may have been acquired by the People's Republic of China.42 A recent string of security breaches involving missing computers and disks containing nuclear secrets also occurred at Los Alamos. A congressional report a few years ago concluded: "Despite repeated PRC thefts of the most sophisticated U.S. nuclear weapons technology, security at our national nuclear weapons laboratories does not meet even minimal standards."43

One government report condemned the department as a "dysfunctional bureaucracy" where "organizational disarray, managerial neglect, and a culture of arrogance … conspired to create an espionage scandal waiting to happen."44 Following 9/11, increased physical and cyber security at Los Alamos and other laboratories was seen as imperative. Unfortunately, there have been 57 security incidents involving possible compromise of classified material at LANL alone between October 2002 and June 2007.45 While security had improved by 2005, a 2008 GAO report concluded: "LANL's ability to sustain its improved physical security posture is unproven because (1) the laboratory appears not to have done so after a significant security incident in 2004, and (2) NNSA's Los Alamos Site Office—which is responsible for overseeing physical security at LANL on a daily basis—may not have enough staff or the proper training for these staff to execute a fully effective security oversight program."46

One problem is the lack of coordination between DoE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)—a separate agency within DoE that was created in 2000 to manage and improve nuclear weapons and technology security.47 Despite the creation of the NNSA, and its gaining a large budget within DoE, major safety and security problems remain.48
 

Synthetic Fuels Corporation

The government-owned Synthetic Fuels Corporation was created in the Energy Security Act of 1980 to develop domestic alternatives to imported fossil fuels.49 The SFC was to be an enormous $88 billion effort that invested federal money into private projects to develop oil shale, tar sands, and coal gasification technologies. President Carter launched the SFC calling it a "keystone" in U.S. energy policy, and Congress initially authorized $20 billion in spending.50 The Reagan administration was initially supportive, but that support eroded over time as it became clearer that the project was a dud.

The types of errors behind the SFC are all too common in Washington. The 1980 legislation was enacted in a crisis atmosphere of spiking energy prices. It assumed that high oil prices of 1980—due to turbulence in the Middle East—would last forever. But oil prices dropped dramatically as the 1980s progressed, making the exotic projects backed by the SFC highly uneconomic.51 Private energy firms became unwilling to put up their own money to partner with the government. Not only were oil prices falling, but the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 increased the tax burden on all types of capital investment spending.

Another problem was that the Synthetic Fuels Corporation was horribly mismanaged. There was a great deal of staff dissention and high employee turnover. Congress lambasted the SFC top brass for its poor leadership, and the SFC president was ousted in 1983 amid complaints about conflicts of interest and the awarding of no-bid contracts to his business associates.52 The Associated Press noted that complaints about the SFC included the agency's "excessively high salaries, cronyism in appointments, and lethargy."53

The SFC also suffered from constant political interference with its decisionmaking, which is not surprising given the SFC was an arm of the government. As one example, the National Academy of Sciences noted that "fuel cell projects under the SFC … were allotted to each of the 50 states, regardless of economic viability."54

By 1983, a broad coalition of fiscal conservatives and environmentalists were opposing the project.55 Recognizing that it was headed for termination, there was a mad dash to hand out subsidies before Congress shut the project down. The SFC was finally shut down in 1986 with little to show taxpayers after spending roughly $2 billion.56

Unfortunately, that was not the end of subsidies to the alternative fuels that SFC had targeted, such as coal liquefaction. The Obama administration has endorsed clean coal subsidies, although such projects have provided little return in the past, as the next section discusses.
 

Clean Coal

The Department of Energy has been funding "clean coal" research for decades, but it has little to show for the effort. Every president from Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Barack Obama in 2009 has supported clean coal subsidies. Unfortunately, clean coal has been a costly and unproductive exercise from the taxpayers' point of view.

"Clean coal" research aims at building energy plants that burn coal in an environmentally friendly way. But clean coal activities are not taxpayer-friendly, and environmental groups do not like them either.57 The GAO found that many clean coal projects have "experienced delays, cost overruns, bankruptcies, and performance problems." 58 The GAO examined 13 projects and found that "8 had serious delays or financial problems, 6 were behind their original schedules by 2 to 7 years, and 2 projects were bankrupt."59

One clean coal project in Alaska gobbled up $117 million of federal taxpayer money during the 1990s.60 But the project never worked as planned, it cost too much to operate, and it was finally closed down as a failure. But project failure is not a problem in Washington because, as noted, costs are benefits to politicians. The Washington Post reported in 2005 that Republican legislators inserted $125 million of taxpayer money into an energy bill to revive the failed Alaska project.61
 

FutureGen

FutureGen was launched in 2003 by President Bush as public-private partnership to build a low-emission coal-fueled power plant and demonstrate technologies to capture carbon dioxide. The government was to share the cost of the project with 12 private energy companies. The project was originally estimated to cost $1 billion but the estimate ballooned to $1.8 billion by 2008. In mid-2008, $176 million had been spent.62

In 2007, Department of Energy chose a single site in Mattoon, Illinois to build the power plant, which would demonstrate new energy technologies. But after the project's estimated cost had doubled, the department changed direction in 2008 and cancelled the Mattoon project, essentially flushing $176 million down the drain. The department's new idea is to focus on developing clean coal projects in numerous different locations at a taxpayer cost of $1.3 billion.63

FutureGen has involved classic pork barrel politics since the beginning. As the department originally considered various project sites in Illinois and Texas, the state governments in those two states deployed aggressive lobbying to woo federal officials.64   Upon news of possible cancellation of the Mattoon project in 2008, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois swung into action using all his tools as the second-ranking senator to continue the funding to his state. He even threatened to block appointments to the Department of Energy unless it reversed its cancellation decision.65 Meanwhile, a House committee considered issuing subpoenas to the Department of Energy to get the details of the decision to change course on the project. Illinois Republicans and Democrats alike have sought to use various legislative means to continue funding for the Mattoon facility. In 2009, the Obama administration revived the project.

The FutureGen project illustrates again the near impossibility of making rational economic decisions with large business subsidy projects. Even if a government agency was well-managed and made decisions based on sound cost-benefit analyses, projects become incredibly politicized.
 

Alternative Fuel Vehicles

There have been numerous federal efforts to develop alternative fuel vehicles over the years. Programs under President Clinton in the 1990s and George Bush in the 2000s handed out funding to automobile companies in a public-private partnership.

The Clinton administration's Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles handed out $1.2 billion over eight years to U.S. automakers for development of hybrid cars.66 The program is widely viewed as being a flop—automakers made some marginal advances, but these probably would have been made without federal dollars.67 And despite the subsidies, U.S. automakers were years behind Honda and Toyota, which introduced the Insight and Prius hybrids, respectively.

Interestingly, one automobile expert noted that PNGV had the perverse effect of reducing Detroit's sense of urgency about bring hybrids to market, while at the same time prodding the Japanese automakers to speed their own efforts.68 We see this problem in many areas of federally funded research—once private sector businesses and individuals are on the gravy train, they figure that they should milk the funding as long as they can, and they have little incentive to bring products to the market.

When the Bush administration came to office it canceled PNGV and launched its own program, FreedomCar, which it claimed would work better. The president's 2003 budget said that while PNGV had a "misguided focus," FreedomCAR will have "clear goals" and an "accountable manager."69 That is very doubtful given that neither federal managers nor supporters in Congress were held accountable for wasting $1.5 billion of taxpayer money on PNGV. Supporters of federal spending programs—in Congress or in the agencies—are virtually never held accountable for failures, and thus they have little incentive to do proper due diligence on spending projects.

FreedomCAR subsidizes research into both hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. FreedomCAR consumed $1.7 billion between 2004 and 2008, and funding is ongoing. The Department of Energy has requested $221 million for FY2009, up from $213 in 2008.70

FreedomCAR is now part of a larger program that works closely with Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and Fuel Partnership, which includes the big three domestic automobile companies and major energy companies. While a recent National Academies Press review concluded that the program was well-managed, multiple changes are recommended.71 The report noted that there remain major barriers in technology, cost, and performance that would allow such a vehicle to be competitive in the market. It concludes that this research will be beneficial if it overcomes these barriers, but the department does not have a very good track-record with such industrial subsidies.          

Indeed, regarding alternative fuel vehicles, the New York Times reported that "the history of federal help for Detroit is not good."72 One problem is that federal efforts are constantly changing tack—funding the latest fashionable technology, but with no follow through.73

Alternative fuel activities have also suffered from the usual Washington pork barrel politics. The GAO reported that about one quarter of the more than $1 billion in hydrogen vehicle funding under FreedomCar was earmarked to particular congressional districts, rather than having the Department of Energy prioritize and fund the most promising activities.74

In recent years, Congress and the administration have stepped up subsidies to U.S. automakers and parts suppliers. In 2008, it enacted the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which provides $25 billion in loans "for the costs of reequipping, expanding, and establishing manufacturing facilities in the U.S. to produce advanced technology vehicles, and components for such vehicles."75 In effect, the legislation is a bailout of the struggling industry. To qualify however, the companies must prove financial solvency and allow the DoE to set priorities toward technologies it deems promising.76 Industrial policy is back in fashion in Washington.


 

The author thanks Harrison Moar and John Nelson for their excellent research assistance.

1 Congressional Budget Office, "Budget Options," March 2003, p. 60.

2 The Department of Energy provides background information at www.ocrwm.doe.gov/repository/index.shtml. See also U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Majority Staff. "Yucca Mountain: The Most Studied Real Estate on the Planet." Report to the Chairman. March 2006, p. 9, http://epw.senate.gov/repwhitepapers/YuccaMountainEPWReport.pdf

4Budget of United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009, Appendix, p. 404.

5 Edward F. Sproat, U.S. Department of Energy, Testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, Committee on Energy and Commerce, July 15, 2008, p. 8. See also U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Majority Staff, "Yucca Mountain: The Most Studied Real Estate on the Planet," March 2006, p. 24.

6 Department of Energy, "Analysis of the Total System Life Cycle Cost of the Civilian Radioactive Waste Management Program, Fiscal Year 2007," Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Washington D.C., July 2008, p. vi, vii.

7 Matt Yancy, "A $1.7 Billion Hole in the Ground," Associated Press, October 27, 1983.

8 CBO, "Comparative Analysis of Alternative Financing Plans for the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project," September 20, 1983.

9 GAO, "U.S. Fast Breeder Reactor Program Needs Direction," EMD-80-81, September 22, 1980, p. 23. See also GAO, "Analysis of The Department of Energy's Clinch River Breeder Reactor Cost Estimate," GAO/RCED-83-74, December 10, 1982, p. iv.

10 Henry Sokolski, "The Clinch River Folly," Heritage Foundation Background Paper no. 231, December 3, 1982, p. 3.

11 Matt Yancy, "A $1.7 Billion Hole in the Ground," Associated Press, October 27, 1983. See also CBO, "Comparative Analysis of Alternative Financing Plans for the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project," September 20, 1983.

12 GAO, "National Ignition Facility: Management and Oversight Failures Caused Major Cost Overruns and Schedule Delays," GAO/RCED-00-141, August 2000, p. 4.

13 Michelle Locke, "California Governor Tours Superlaser System," Associated Press, November 11, 2008.

14 GAO, "National Ignition Facility: Management and Oversight Failures Caused Major Cost Overruns and Schedule Delays," GAO/RCED-00-141, August 2000, p. 5.

15 Ibid., pp. 19-20.

16 Terrence Fehner and Jack Hall, History Division, U.S. Department of Energy, "Department of Energy 1977-1991: A Summary History," U.S. Department of Energy, November 1994, p. 41.

17 Terrence Fehner and Jack Hall, History Division, U.S. Department of Energy, "Department of Energy 1977-1991: A Summary History," U.S. Department of Energy, November 1994, p. 47.

18 Terrence Fehner and Jack Hall, History Division, U.S. Department of Energy, "Department of Energy 1977-1991: A Summary History," U.S. Department of Energy, November 1994, p. 48.

19 Terrence Fehner and Jack Hall, History Division, U.S. Department of Energy, "Department of Energy 1977-1991: A Summary History," U.S. Department of Energy, November 1994, p. 87.

20Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2009, Appendix, p. 384. See also Department of Energy, "FY 2009 Congressional Budget Request: Budget Highlights," February 2008, p. 21.

21 Terrence Fehner and Jack Hall, History Division, U.S. Department of Energy, "Department of Energy 1977-1991: A Summary History," U.S. Department of Energy, November 1994, p. 88.

22 GAO, "Major Performance and Accountability Challenges: Department of Energy," GAO-03-100, January 2003, pp. 18-19.

23 GAO, "Nuclear Waste: Action Needed to Improve Accountability and Management of DOE's Major Cleanup Projects," GAO-08-1081, September 2008, pp. 5-6.

24Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2009, Appendix, p. 384.

25 Lisa Stiffler, "Troubled Hanford cleanup has state mulling lawsuit," Seattle Post Intelligencer, March 20, 2008.

26 GAO, "Nuclear Waste: DOE's Efforts to Protect the Columbia River from Contamination Could Be Further Strengthened," GAO-06-1018, August 2006, p. 8.

27Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2009, Appendix, p. 384.

28 GAO, "Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Energy," GAO/OCG-99-6, January 1999, p. 20.

29 T.R. Reid and Bill McAllister, "FBI Accuses Energy Dept. of Lying; Rocky Flats Dangers Allegedly Hiden," Washington Post, June 10, 1989.

30 Ibid., p. 15.

31 Department of Energy, "DOE Certifies Rocky Flats Cleanup Complete," news release, December 8, 2005, www.energy.gov/news/2790.htm.

32 GAO, "Nuclear Safety: Concerns About Reactor Restart and Implications for DOE's Safety Culture," GAO/RCED-90-104, April 12, 1990, pp. 2-3. And see GAO, "Department of Energy Acting To Control Hazardous Wastes At Its Savannah River Nuclear Facilities," GAO/RCED-85-23, November 21, 1984, pp. 10-11.

33Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2009, Appendix, p. 384.

34 Terrence Fehner and Jack Hall, History Division, U.S. Department of Energy, "Department of Energy 1977-1991: A Summary History," U.S. Department of Energy, November 1994, p 90. See also GAO, "Federal Research: Superconducting Super Collider's Total Estimated Cost Will Exceed $11 Billion," GAO/T-RCED-93-57, June 30, 1993, pp. 6, 9.

35 Terrence Fehner and Jack Hall, History Division, U.S. Department of Energy, "Department of Energy 1977-1991: A Summary History," U.S. Department of Energy, November 1994, p. 46.

36 Terrence Fehner and Jack Hall, History Division, U.S. Department of Energy, "Department of Energy 1977-1991: A Summary History," U.S. Department of Energy, November 1994, pp. 73, 90.

37 GAO, "Federal Research: Superconducting Super Collider Cost and Schedule," GAO/T-RCED-93-47, May 26, 1993, p. 7.

38 CBO, "Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options," February 1993, p. 143.

39 Robert Lee Hotz and Lianne Hart, "A Costly Monument to 'Big Science' Difficulties; Research: Physicists and Displaced Families Ponder Legacy of $2-Billion Holes in the Ground Left From Super Collider Project," Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1993. And see CBO, "Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options," February 1993, p. 143.

40 GAO, "Federal Research: Additional Funds for Terminating the Super Collider Are Not Justified," GAO/RCED-94-153, April 8, 1994, pp. 1-2.

41 For background on the labs, see www.energy.gov/organization/labs-techcenters.htm.

42 House of Representatives, Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military / Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, House Report 105-851, May 25, 1999, p. v.

43 Ibid, p. x.

44 These conclusions were from a White House panel cited in Senate Committee on Government Affairs, Senator Fred Thompson, "Government at the Brink," Volume 2, June 2001, pp. 30, 31, www.senate.gov/~gov_affairs/vol2.pdf.

45 GAO, "Los Alamos National Laboratory: Information on Security of Classified Data, Nuclear Material Controls, Nuclear and Worker Safety, and Project Management Weakness," Letter to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, GAO-08-173R, January 10, 2008.

46 GAO, "Nuclear Security: Los Alamos National Laboratory Faces Challenges In Sustaining Physical and Cyber Security Improvements," GAO-08-1180T, September 25, 2008, p. 2.

47 GAO, "Major Performance and Accountability Challenges: Department of Energy," GAO-03-100, January 2003, p. 6.

49 For background, see GAO, "The Synthetic Fuels Corporation's Progress In Aiding Synthetic Fuels Development," GAO/RCED-84-46, July 11, 1984, p.2.  

50 Robert D. Hershey Jr., "Synthetic Fuels Corp. Is at the Crossroads," New York Times, November 23, 1983.

51 Milton R. Copulos, "Salvaging the Synthetic Fuels Corporation," Backgrounder #423, Heritage Foundation, April 12, 1985, p. 1, www.heritage.org/Research/EnergyandEnvironment/upload/87432_1.pdf.

52 Robert Sangeorge, "Synthetic Fuels Corp. President Resigns," United Press International, August 18, 1983.

53Associated Press, "Subcommittee Asks End to Synthetic Fuels Corp," June 19, 1985.

54The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance. National Academies Press, 1992, p. 59, /www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=1998&page=59.

55 Robert D. Hershey Jr., "Synthetic Fuels Corp. Is at the Crossroads," New York Times, November 23, 1983.

56 Based on federal budgets between 1983 and 1987, the Synthetic Fuels Corporation appeared to have outlays of a little less than $1 billion in total. In addition, the Great Plains Coal Gasification plant in North Dakota defaulted on its $1.5 billion federal loan in 1986, but the government later recouped some of that loss from the sale of the plant.

57 For example, see Green Scissors Campaign discussion at www.greenscissors.com/energy/cleancoal.htm.

58 GAO, "Fossil Fuel R&D: Lessons Learned in the Clean Coal Technology Program," GAO-01-854T, June 12, 2001, p. 2.

59 Ibid., pp. 2-4.

60 Justin Blum, "U.S. Loan Proposed to Rescue Alaska Power Plant," Washington Post, April 24, 2005, p. A4.

61 Ibid.

62 Department of Energy, "FutureGen Clean Coal Projects," undated, www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/futuregen. And see Katherine Ling, "Climate: DOE Moves Ahead While Ill. Lawmakers Plot Last Stand to Save FutureGen," Environment and Energy Daily, April 16, 2008.

63 Jim Suhr, "Durbin, Bond as Energy Department to spare FutureGen," Associated Press, May 19, 2008.

64 Jim Suhr, "Energy Department Unveils Retooled FutureGen Plans," Associated Press, May 8, 2008.

65 Jim Suhr, "Durbin, Bond as Energy Department to spare FutureGen," Associated Press, May 19, 2008.

66 Chris Edwards and Tad DeHaven, "Corporate Welfare Update," Cato Institute Tax & Budget Bulletin, no. 7, May 2002.

67 Matthew Wald, "Hoping Not to Repeat the Mistakes of the Past," New York Times, November 22, 2008.

68 Matthew Wald, "Hoping Not to Repeat the Mistakes of the Past," New York Times, November 22, 2008.

69Budget of the U.S. Government, FY2003 (Washington: Government Printing Office, February 2002), p. 132.

70 Department of Energy, "FY 2009 Congressional Budget Request: Budget Highlights," Office of Chief Financial Officer, February 2008, p. 24.

71Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: Second Report," National Academies Press, 2008, p. 4.

72 Matthew Wald, "Hoping Not to Repeat the Mistakes of the Past," New York Times, November 22, 2008.

73 Matthew Wald, "Hoping Not to Repeat the Mistakes of the Past," New York Times, November 22, 2008. And see Harry Stoffer, "Hydrogen Slips as Green Auto Solution," Automotive News, March 17, 2008.

74 Harry Stoffer, "Hydrogen Slips as Green Auto Solution," Automotive News, March 17, 2008.

75 Department of Energy, "Fact Sheet: Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program," November 6, 2008.

76 Peter Grier, "Why $25 billion bailout may not help strapped automakers," Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 2008, www.csmonitor.com/2008/1114/p25s07-usec.html.

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