Draft budget documents show that the Trump Administration is preparing to ask Congress to slash 2019 funding for clean energy research by 72%, the Washington Post reported.
Trump wants to cut the budget for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) from $2.04 billion for this fiscal year to $575.5 million for the 2019 fiscal year. According to the Washington Post, the president’s requests also include:
- Reducing EERE staff from 680 to 450
- Cutting research in fuel efficient vehicles by 82%
- Cutting bioenergy technologies by 82%
- Reducing advanced manufacturing by 75%
- Cutting solar energy technology by 78%
- Cutting funds for electric car technologies and fuel-efficient vehicles from $307 million to $56 million in 2019
- Eliminating the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which lowers energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes and currently supports 8,500 jobs
- Eliminating state energy grants
- Reducing spending on more efficient building technologies
- Reducing spending on research into geothermal, hydro, and wind power
The EERE budget includes funding for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) based in Golden, Colorado. Currently the lab employs about 1,700 people working on research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. “The University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business estimated that, back in 2014, NREL converted $380 million in federal funding into $870 million in economic impact nationally,” the Denver Post reported this week.
NREL regularly collaborates with businesses as well. In April, the DOE named 38 small businesses working on advanced energy products selected to participate in the Small Business Vouchers pilot program. The program allows businesses to collaborate with national laboratories, including NREL, helping them gain a global competitive advantage.
Last May, NREL participated in a round of DOE-funded projects aimed at stimulating the use of high performance supercomputing in US manufacturing. Ford and GE were among the project leaders receiving awards, which totaled $3.9 million. More recently, NREL c0-published research on the economics of integrated solar PV and battery storage projects for building owners.
Trump sought to bring the EERE’s 2018 budget down to $636.1 million last year, but Congress did not implement those cuts. Washington Post journalists Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson point out that many of the sharp cuts sought this time would likely be restored by Congress.
“But President Trump’s budget, due out in February, will mark a starting point for negotiations and offer a statement of intent and policy priorities,” they wrote. The president’s draft budget clearly emphasizes his focus on fossil fuels over renewables. During his State of the Union address, Trump referred to “beautiful clean coal.”