Author:Gavin Bade@GavinBade PUBLISHED Feb. 1, 2018
The Trump administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 will include a 72% cut to clean energy research at the Department of Energy, The Washington Post reports.
The budget proposal would reportedly cut funding for the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to $575.5 million from its current level of $2.04 billion. The White House proposed to cut EERE’s budget to $636.1 million for this year, but Congress did not approve the proposal.
The EERE cuts are unlikely to pass through Congress unchanged. Federal lawmakers have funded the government through a series of continuing resolutions in the past year, the most recent of which expires Feb. 8.
Rebuked by Congress on its 2018 budget, the White House appears set to double down on plans to slash clean energy funding at DOE.
According to a document obtained by the Post, the Trump 2019 budget proposal, due out this month, would cut EERE funding by nearly three-fourths and reduce the office’s staff to about 450 from 680 today.
Electric vehicle research would take an especially big hit, the Post reports, cut to $56 million from the current $307 million level. Fuel efficient vehicle research would be cut 82%, bioenergy funding by 82% and solar funding by 75%.
It is unclear, the Post notes, whether the document is a final proposal or a draft, but its release prompted swift criticism from clean energy groups and some federal lawmakers.
“Clean energy has been one of the biggest job-creators over the past decade, and investment in these critical technologies are driving down energy costs to businesses and consumers,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “Now is not the time to slash funding for this promising research.”
Congress is unlikely to approve the budget proposal unchanged. Last year, lawmakers from both parties criticized the White House’s plan to reduce clean energy funding, and in May Congress struck a government funding deal that reversed many of the deepest cuts sought by the White House.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), head of the energy and water subcommittee on the Senate Appropriations Committee, stressed to the Post that the White House budget is merely a proposal for Congressional lawmakers to review.
“The president suggests a budget, but, under the Constitution, Congress passes appropriations bills,” Alexander said.