Last-minute congressional budget compromise saves EPA, ARPA-E funding

Dive Brief:

  • The bipartisan budget compromise reached by Congress over the weekend salvaged funding for both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and clean energy research done by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
  • The EPA's budget was trimmed by 1%, and ARPA-E actually recieved a $15 million boost instead of being eliminated, as previously proposed by the Trump administration. The deal runs through the remainder of the government's fiscal year, which is Sept. 30.
  • Under the budget proposal floated by President Trump, funding for ARPA-E would have been eliminated and the EPA budget would have been reduced by almost a third. Congress will vote on the $1 trillion package later this week.

Dive Insight:

The EPA's budget still got a haircut, but the final deal funds the agency at just $80 million less than last yearor about a 1% reduction, plus no staff cuts, according to the Washington Post's Daily 202 wrap-up.

It's a stark reversal from Trump's proposed "skinny-budget" that would have slashed funding at the agency and shut down innovative research at ARPA-E. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly forced Republicans to pull 160 riders which the Post said included cuts to environmental funding.

According to a House Appropriations summary of the budget, funding for energy programs within the Department of Energy is $11.28 billion – an increase of $257 million above the fiscal year 2016. "Within this total, the bill prioritizes and increases funding for energy programs that encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and that help advance the nation’s goal of an 'all-of-the-above' solution to energy independence," according to the summary.

Renewable energy programs, "which have already received significant investments in recent years," were cut $808 million compared to the previous Administration’s budget request. The bill funds the EPA at $8.06 billion, a reduction of $81.4 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. 

"The legislation rejects the previous Administration’s proposed increase in staffing, holding the EPA to the current capacity of 15,000 positions, the lowest since 1989," according to the summary, while also supporting President Trump's executive orders to "encourage economic growth by providing flexibility for the Administration to review and rewrite the 'Waters of the United States' rule, the 'Clean Power Plan,' and other environmental regulations."

Links to all of the omnibus summaries can be found here.

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Filed Under: Regulation & Policy