Donald Trump is taking another swipe at renewables by proposing the virtual elimination of research funding for clean energy. It is no secret that Trump loves fossil fuels a point he reiterated during his first State of the Union address. It is now becoming increasingly clear that he has contempt for renewable energy. He has emphasized this point recently by imposing tariffs on imported solar panels. Now Trump has followed this up with yet another salvo that seeks to cut funding for clean energy.
A draft budget document obtained by the Washington Post indicates that the Trump administration wants Congress to reduce funding for clean energy research at the Energy Department by 72 percent. As explained in the title of the Post story this underscores the administration’s marked preference for fossil fuels.
The Post article by Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson explains that these cuts would also apply to energy efficiency programs and go into effect in 2019. The cuts target the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). If Trump gets his way funding at EERE will decline from $2.04 billion for this fiscal year to $575.5 million in fiscal 2019. The draft document also proposes reducing staffing at EERE from 680 to 450.
The budget proposal all but eliminates research into efficient buildings, EVs, and fuel-efficient vehicles. It would kill the weatherization program and state energy grants.
“The document underscores the administration’s continued focus on the exploitation of fossil fuel resources…over newer renewable technologies seen as a central solution to the problem of climate change.”
It is hard to see cuts to the Energy Department as anything but bad business. As reported by the Denver Post, in 2014, “NREL converted $380 million in federal funding into $870 million in economic impact”. It would appear that the proposed budget is about maximizing the use of fossil fuels rather than fiscal leadership.
Ultimately Congress will make the final call.