Laid Off NREL Workers Get Jobs Back

Cindy Zimmerman

Bush at NREL It was awkward, to say the least, that in the midst of President Bush promoting the need for more research into alternative domestic fuels, funding was cut for the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO. So, before the president made his appearance at the NREL today, some 32 workers who were just laid off two weeks ago were given their jobs back. Needless to say, it was going to look bad for the president to show up there and talk about the important work they are doing and how he wanted to put more money into this research when they had just had their budget cut by $28 million dollars. Kind of hard to explain, but the president did attempt to do so by blaming it on a budget mix-up.
I recognize that there has been some interesting — let me say — mixed signals when it comes to funding. The issue, of course, is whether or not good intentions are met with actual dollars spent. Part of the issue we face, unfortunately, is that there are sometimes decisions made, but as a result of the appropriations process, the money may not end up where it was supposed to have gone. I was talking to Dan (NREL director Dr. Dan Arvizu) about our mutual desire to clear up any discrepancies in funding, and I think we’ve cleaned up those discrepancies. My message to those who work here is we want you to know how important your work is; we appreciate what you’re doing; and we expect you to keep going it and we want to help you keep doing it.
(Read all of the president’s remarks here)
I just thought the whole thing was kind of amusingly ironic. I had been sent a link to this December 20 article in the Rocky Mountain News about the layoffs at NREL, right after the president’s State of the Union speech, but I forgot about it until now. Thanks to my friend Erick in Nebraska for sending me that article.
The AP wire article on the President’s NREL visit today also headlines the budget story. It notes that only $5 millon of the $28 million shortfall was restored to the lab to rehire the workers, leaving $23 million still short. That, according to the article has “forced delays in research subcontracted to universities and companies.”

Government, Research