White House Wants Massive Cuts To Clean Energy Research, According To Reports

The Sun's only rising on clean energy. Will De Freitas/Flickr; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Energy in America is in a dichotomous state, split between those who seek to revive coal and roll back environmental protections, and those that seek to invest in clean energy and restore said regulations.

A microcosm of this battle played out over the last 24 hours. Just after nine states formally announced a major push to get carbon pricing introduced to the US, it was revealed that the White House wants to cut clean energy and energy efficiency programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) by 72 percent in the fiscal year 2019, according to draft budget documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The DOE was already reportedly seeking cuts, but they were rather more modest compared to the demands set by the executive branch.

Back in 2017, the White House asked for cuts amounting to just over two-thirds in this regard, which were denied by Congress. Clearly, they’ve doubled-down on their efforts to nix clean energy research this year. Fortunately, as before, Congress is unlikely to pass such a draconian measure.

In general, the White House’s budget requests have constantly asked for deep spending reductions in science and environmental research programs, but they’ve largely been rebuffed by a Republican-dominated House. In some cases, scientific research has seen modest spending increases, although as of 2017, this extra funding was channeled toward defense and health programs.

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Axios have also reported on the DOE clean energy budget cut requests, although they’ve settled on a figure of 70 percent. Either way, despite its steep odds, this still spells trouble: As their report notes, this request sets a low negotiating bar for Congress, and the lower it starts, the lower the final figure is likely to be.

Is anyone really surprised? Although there have been vague references to an “all of the above” energy strategy when it comes to the US, the Trump administration – and plenty of Congressional members living in fossil fuel-heavy states – have invariably chastised clean energy and vociferously supported coal power.

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