Trumps budget slashes EPA, green energy
We’ve been waiting for some time now to see just what damage the Trump administration intends for the US clean energy and environmental policies and institutions. And this week’s budget release confirms the administration has massive cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and in particular the country’s leading clean energy research office, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
Last week it was reported that the Trump administration would direct heavy cuts at the EERE — a cut of up to 70% in 2018, which would eradicate around $1.45 billion from its $2.09 billion 2017 budget. This was confirmed this week, with budget documents published by the Trump administration on Tuesday revealing that the EERE will only receive $636 million in new funding in 2018, and will suffer staffing cuts from 634 full-time employees down to an estimated 458, nearly a 30% reduction.
The EERE is a part of the Department of Energy, and the DOE’s previous head, Ernest Moniz took to Twitter to express his dismay and concerns, saying that the proposed budget cuts represent “a retreat of American leadership on energy innovation, environmental protection and energy security.”
The DOE’s current head, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, took a different tack, however, saying that “This budget delivers on the promise to reprioritize spending in order to carry out DOE’s core functions efficiently and effectively while also being fiscally responsible and respectful to the American taxpayer.”
The renewable energy office of the DOE is also seeing cuts, with funding for its solar programs declining from $241 million down to only $69.7 million, or around 71%. Wind energy research will also decline down from $95.27 million to $31.7 million, a 67% cut.
The new budget also cuts funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by nearly a third, eliminating more than 3,800 jobs and imposing cuts to its clean air and water programs. Funding for the EPA will reach only $5.7 billion in 2018, a 31% cut from 2017, and potentially the lowest funding for environmental protection in the US (after adjusting for inflation) since the middle of the 70s.
Unsurprisingly, the EPA’s head, Scott Pruitt, was enthusiastic, saying that “The President’s budget respects the American taxpayer,” adding that “This budget supports EPA’s highest priorities with federal funding for priority work in infrastructure, air and water quality, and ensuring the safety of chemicals in the marketplace.”
Conversely, the DOE suffered an overall budget cut, but nevertheless received an 11.4% increase to its nuclear weapons budget.
So, that bodes well.