AUTHOR: Gavin Bade@GavinBade PUBLISHED March 22, 2018
An omnibus spending bill released late Wednesday by Congressional leaders rejects President Trump’s proposals for federal energy agencies, keeping funds for the Environmental Protection Agency stable while increasing clean energy spending at the Department of Energy.
The omnibus includes an increase of nearly $1.5 billion in DOE clean energy funding, including a 14% increase to the renewable energy and efficiency office, and a 16% increase at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Trump had sought to cut the renewables office by 65% and eliminate ARPA-E.
Congress must pass the omnibus by midnight Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown. Politico reports the White House supports the package despite higher funding for domestic agencies.
Domestic energy programs were targets for some of the steepest cuts in Trump’s budget proposal.
At DOE, the proposal would have slashed funding for renewable energy and late-stage technology commercialization efforts at ARPA-E and the loans office. Though funding for the Office of Fossil Energy would have increased, the plan would cut spending for carbon capture and storage (CCS), instead focusing on the development of new coal technologies, like small modular plants.
The omnibus spending bill would turn that proposal on its head, increasing funds for a number of offices Trump proposed to cut.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would see a 14% increase over 2017 enacted funding levels, while funding at the Office of Fossil Energy would increase by 10%, the nuclear office by 19%, science office by 16%, and the energy office by 8%. The loan programs office would be preserved, as would funding for CCS.
If enacted, the omnibus would put the U.S. nearly on track to meet President Obama’s 2015 commitment to double clean energy R&D within a decade, noted Tarak Shah, a former Obama DOE official, in an email. That “Mission Innovation” goal was signed by 20 nations alongside the Paris climate accord, which President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from earlier this year.
The increased funding plan for DOE comes after senators from both parties questioned Secretary of Energy Rick Perry over the Trump administration’s budget request earlier this week. Perry promised that steep cuts to energy programs would not mean a “reduction in results,” but also pledged to operate any programs that Congress funds “in a way you will be most pleased with.”