Proposed Trump Budget Slashes Clean Energy Funding

Clean energy groups across the board are speaking out in opposition of President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget, which includes cuts to programs at the U.S. Department of Energy (EPA), as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For the DOE, the budget requests $2.5 billion specifically for “energy and related programs,” which is $1.9 billion below that of FY 2017, according to a fact sheet from the agency.

Of this $2.5 billion, $696 million is proposed for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs – which is $1.3 billion below that of FY 2017. This will be used to focus on “early-stage R&D on energy technologies, including new approaches to energy storage beyond current battery technologies.”

Meanwhile, $502 million is proposed for fossil energy R&D – representing an $81 million increase from FY 2017 – to “improve the reliability and efficiency of advanced fossil-based power systems.” For nuclear, $757 million is proposed – which is $259 million below that of FY 2017 – to “revive and expand the U.S. nuclear energy sector through early-stage R&D.”

Furthermore, under the proposal, both the Loan Programs and the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) initiatives would be terminated while “maintaining monitoring of the existing loan portfolio and overseeing existing awards to completion,” respectively. ARPA-E, which is charged with supporting advanced energy technologies, announced last year that a total of 74 project teams had attracted more than $1.8 billion in private-sector follow-on funding since the agency was founded in 2009.

On the EPA side of the budget proposal, the administration has requested $5.4 billion overall for the agency – which is a whopping $2.8 billion, or 34%, decrease from FY 2017, according to the White House’s numbers.

“The budget eliminates many voluntary and lower-priority activities and programs and invests in process improvements and other operational enhancements to bring greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness to the work of the agency,” the White House budget report states. “EPA is also in the midst of implementing sweeping regulatory reforms. The President’s Executive Orders 13771, ‘Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,’ and 13783, ‘Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,’ are guiding the agency to find new approaches to protecting the environment and human health while also ensuring consideration of economic security, as consistent with law.”

According to the Sierra Club, the EPA budget cuts include “decimating its staff and life-saving programs,” such as the “Climate Change Research and Partnership Programs, the Indoor Air and Radon Programs, and the Marine Pollution and National Estuary Programs.”

“Trump’s budget is a statement of his priorities, and this budget demonstrates that he could care less about protecting clean air, clean water, public health or our public lands,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, in a press release. “This is a shameful, ideological document that represents the extent to which Trump has fully given himself over to corporate special interests above all else. Congress must act to protect the critical programs Trump wants to cut by unequivocally rejecting this rigged budget. Any member of Congress that backs draconian cuts like these is failing to represent the American people and may find they need to start updating their resume very soon.”

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), calls the proposed budget “an assault on the vital role that federal scientists perform in gathering information that we need to make good public policy.”

“His budget would cut the EPA’s funding by a third and targets the research arm of the EPA with a 40 percent cut, therefore threatening the work of scientists who evaluate the hazards posed by toxic pollutants and advise us on where hazardous pollutants might travel if released into the environment,” Kimmell continues in a statement.

He adds, “We need a government that values and invests in our long-term scientific capacity, public health protections and clean energy leadership. Members of Congress should oppose this budget and fund these agencies in a clean spending bill with no ‘poison pill’ anti-science riders.”

Christy Leavitt, campaign director for Environment America’s Defending Our Environment, notes in a press release that the budget would mean “more pollution and fewer environmental protections for Americans.”

Likewise, Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, calls the budget “a blueprint for a less healthy, more polluted America.”

“For the second year in a row, President Trump has proposed devastating cuts to EPA, despite the fact that its budget in real terms has been cut by more than half over the last four decades,” Krupp says in a statement.

Speaking on the DOE cuts, he adds, “The research and development in clean energy and efficiency that’s being done at the Department of Energy is the cornerstone of our country’s efforts to develop the clean energy future we all want. Cuts to these programs will hurt American competitiveness and job creation.”

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