Trump budget again seeks deep cuts to EPA, DOE renewables research
The Environmental Protection Agency and renewable energy programs at the Department of Energy are again slated for deep cuts in the Trump administration's annual budget proposal, released Monday, while fossil fuels and nuclear energy would get a boost.
The budget proposal would cut funding for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) by 70% and would eliminate the DOE Loan Programs Office and the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E). It would set aside $6.1 billion for the EPA, a 31% cut from enacted 2019 spending levels.
The cuts proposed for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget are similar to proposals from the White House in each of the past two years. In both cases, Congress rejected the president's proposed spending cuts and funded EPA and DOE near or above their previous appropriation levels.
The White House's budget proposal is a restatement of its energy priorities — one likely to face major changes from Congress.
As in recent years, the plan envisions slashing funding for the EERE office by more than two-thirds. In its FY 2019 and FY 2018 budgets, the White House proposed 65% and 69% cuts to the office, respectively.
The new budget would fund EERE at $696 million — $353 million from existing balances and $343 million in new FY 2020 funding — according to a background briefing with DOE officials Thursday morning.
The office received $2.3 billion for FY 2019 after a Congressional spending bill last May rejected the White House's proposed cuts. The president's proposal likely faces more of an uphill battle this year after Democrats won control of the House of Representatives last November.
As in past years, DOE says the proposed reductions are part of a shift from applied research to more basic R&D. That would include elimination of ARPA-E and the DOE loan office, as well as ending the electric vehicle tax credits at the Treasury Department.
"[ARPA-E] elimination facilitates opportunities to integrate the positive aspects of ARPA-E into DOE's applied energy research programs," a summary of the budget proposal reads. "In addition, the elimination enables the Department to efficiently direct scarce resources as part of an integrated national energy strategy."
The budget also proposes to sell transmission and generation assets owned by the federal government, including those of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Southwestern Power Administration, Western Area Power Administration and Bonneville Power Administration.
"Reducing or eliminating the Federal Government's role in electricity transmission infrastructure ownership, thereby increasing the private sector's role, and introducing more market-based incentives, including rates, for power sales from Federal dams would encourage a more efficient allocation of economic resources and mitigate risk to taxpayers," the proposal reads.
In contrast to the renewable energy cuts, the budget would allocate $562 million for the Office of Fossil Energy, officials said, an increase of $60 million over the White House's budget proposal for FY 2019. The Office of Nuclear Energy would be funded at $824 million, a $67 million increase over last year's proposal.
At the EPA, Trump's budget would cut funding by $2.3 billion, representing a greater than 31% reduction from estimated 2019 spending levels approved under the spending deal that ended the February government shutdown.
Like DOE, EPA has also been slated for deep cuts — 25% and 30%, respectively — in the White House's FY 2019 and FY 2018 budget proposals. And as in recent years, some of the savings would come from administering the EPA's Energy Star efficiency program for appliances through user fees, rather than taxpayer dollars.
Along with DOE and EPA, the Department of Interior would see a significant cut — $2 billion, or 12% from 2019 enacted levels.
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