Trump proposes slashing billions in green energy spending

By Michael Bastasch

The Trump administration has proposed slashing nearly $2 billion from energy programs at the Energy Department, including the agency’s green energy office.

Trump’s budget proposes $30.6 billion for the Energy Department (DOE), but with more of a focus on the agency’s nuclear weapons and security programs over programs to promote green energy championed by the Obama administration.

The budget proposal, released Tuesday, cuts $1.9 billion from energy programs, mostly through funding cuts to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which has spent $12 billion t green energy technology.

EERA funds programs to bring green energy to marketplace, including the “SunShot” that aims to cut the price of solar panels. The office also spends millions on research done by the national labs.

At least one EERE employee leaked a draft budget to the Washington Post at the beginning of February, which detailed cuts to the office’s programs.

While EERE’s budget is slashed, the administration proposed an $81 million increase on research and development spending overseen by the Office of Fossil Energy. DOE’s nuclear energy office would see a $259 million haircut.

“This proposal will empower DOE to achieve our missions efficiently and effectively while being respectful to the American taxpayer,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a statement.

Trump touted “beautiful clean coal” in his State of the Union address in January. Funding for carbon capture and other technologies to reduce coal fleet emissions would be handled by DOE’s fossil energy office.

The proposed DOE budget would also eliminate the agency’s controversial loan guarantee program and the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy program. The loan program lent taxpayer dollars to green energy companies that went bankrupt, but even with its successes, the program is on track to lose $2.2 billion.

DOE proposed continuing “monitoring of the existing loan portfolio and overseeing existing awards to completion.”

Trump’s budget plan was released the same day as his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan that includes key reforms to environmental laws. DOE is not a major feature of the infrastructure plan.

But ultimately, Congress will decide how much money federal agencies get this fiscal year. Congress largely opposed the deep cuts to federal agency budgets the White House proposed last year.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

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