White House Seeks 72% Cut To Clean Energy Research

The draft budget proposal also calls for steep cuts to staff at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration's budget proposal will seek deep cuts to the Department of Energy's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, asking for a 72 percent reduction in fiscal 2019. It is unlikely that Congress would go along with the plan, but it shows where President Donald Trump wants negotiations to begin.

The document underscores the administration’s continued focus on the exploitation of fossil fuel resources — or as Trump put it in his State of the Union address, “beautiful clean coal” — over newer renewable technologies seen as a central solution to the problem of climate change.

The Energy Department had asked the White House for more modest spending reductions for the renewable and efficiency programs, but people familiar with the process, who asked for anonymity to share unfinished budget information, said that the Office of Management and Budget insisted on the deeper cuts.

Last year the Trump administration asked to reduce the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy from $2.04 billion to just $636.1 million. This time around, the draft proposal would decrease it even further, to $575.5 million.

“It shows that we’ve made no inroads in terms of convincing the administration of our value, and if anything, our value based on these numbers has dropped,” said one EERE employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal budget information.

It is unclear how closely the final budget proposal will mirror the current draft, but programs subject to cuts include the following:

  • Abolishing the weatherization program that helps reduce utility bills for homeowners;
  • Eliminating state energy grants;
  • Reducing research in fuel efficient vehicles by 82%, bioenergy technologies by 82%, advanced manufacturing by 75%, and solar energy technology by 78%;
  • Cutting funds for electric car technologies and fuel efficient vehicles from the current $307 million to $56 million.

Also included in the draft is a significant reduction in staff at the EERE, dropping from 280 to 450.