The White House may recommend cutting the Department of Energy’s (DOE) office that promotes renewables and energy efficiency nearly 70 percent — from more than $2 billion to $636 million.
Trump administration officials may also recommend cutting 54 percent from the DOE’s fossil energy, which funds clean coal technology, and 36 percent from the nuclear energy office, according to a draft memo reviewed Wednesday by Axios.
The administration released a “skinny” budget in March, which called for a $1.7 billion, or 5.6 percent, cut to the DOE’s budget. The White House suggested a $28 billion budget for the department, cutting programs that subsidize energy development and increasing funding to the National Nuclear Security Administration.
President Donald Trump is set to send his full 2018 budget proposal to Congress next week, but it’s unclear if lawmakers would support deep cuts to green energy and energy efficiency programs.
Environmentalists and green energy activists opposed deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget, in part, on grounds programs to fight global warming would be eliminated. Activists could make the same argument about cuts to DOE programs.
“The clean energy and climate communities need to defend energy innovation with the same vigor they’re defending environmental protections,” Josh Freed, vice president for clean energy at the left-leaning Third Way, told Axios.
Right-leaning environmental activists made similar arguments about cuts to DOE’s fossil energy and nuclear energy offices. Some argue the cuts will break Trump’s promise to help the coal industry.
“It would be very difficult, especially on the carbon capture front, to keep some of the promises that the administration made to the coal community if it’s not going very deep on innovation in this space,” Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath Foundation, told Axios.
But Trump’s already begun the process of repealing rules that hamper coal production put in place by the Obama administration.