Revised Trump budget details big cuts to energy programs - Smart Energy Decisions

Demand Management, Energy Efficiency, Regulation, Hydro, Regulation, Solar, Wind  -  May 24, 2017 - By Amy Poszywak

Revised Trump budget details big EPA, DOE cuts

The Trump administration on May 23 released a revised version of its fiscal 2018 federal budget proposal that calls for significant cuts to government programs that have historically supported environmental protections as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency research and deployment. 

As expected based on a May 17 report citing an early look at the document, the budget proposal, titled "A New Foundation For American Greatness," reads as a more detailed version of the president's earlier "skinny budget."

The new version of the proposal maintains the calls for a 31% cut to funding for U.S. EPA, including an elimination of 3,200 of the agency's 15,000 jobs and 50 of its programs, including Energy Star, according to a government document detailing the proposed budget's impact on the agency.

As for the U.S. DOE, the revised version of the budget adds detail to previously proposed 5.6% funding cut, less drastic than the overall reduction proposed for the EPA. That said, the details outlined in a DOE brief on the revised budget reveal that the most significant impacts of the overall budget reduction are allocated to the department's clean energy programs. The plan also cuts funding for early stage research and development across the board, including for fossil fuel technologies, with an exception for nuclear energy programs. 

The DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, or EERE, would see an approximately 70% cut to its funding under the revised budget proposal. That figure includes a reduction of about 71% to its sustainable transportation programs; 72% for solar, wind, water and geothermal programs and 79% to the energy efficiency segment, which includes the Advanced Manufacturing Office and the Building Technologies Office as well as the federal energy management program and the weatherization and intergovernmental program. In total, the budget also calls for a 30% reduction in full-time employee positions within the EERE. 

The budget proposal also keeps its prior version's call a for a close out of the DOE's Advanced  Research Projects Agency-Energy, known as ARPA-E.

Clean energy associations and advocacy groups were quick to criticize the proposed cuts — all of which are subject to Congressional approval — on May 23. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy called the proposed energy efficiency funding cuts 'draconian,' and called on Congress to reject them. 

"For all the talk about increasing US jobs, the president's budget takes a meat cleaver to the largest job creator in the energy sector: energy efficiency," ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said in a statement. "It seeks crippling cuts to federal programs that transform waste into wealth and help support 2.2 million energy efficiency jobs."

The Solar Energy Industries Association also issued a statement calling on Congress to support federal clean energy programs that create American jobs, drive innovation and stimulate billions in private investment. 

"We were disappointed to see the administration's proposal to slash programs that promote American-made clean energy," Solar Energy Industries Association President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement. "Clean energy research programs have been priorities of both Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses and the investments have paid off many times over." 


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