Trump’s Energy Department Budget Has Less Green Energy And More Nuclear

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s budget request to Congress calls for cutting the Department of Energy’s (DOE) funding by nearly 14 percent, partly by eliminating energy subsidies and loans.

Trump is requesting $28 billion for DOE in fiscal year 2018, which is a $4.5 billion reduction from 2017. The budget plan cuts scientific research into solar, wind, coal and natural gas power by $866 million, roughly 19 percent.

Trump plans to divert some of the savings to increase spending on nuclear weapons programs.

“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,” Secretary of the Department of Energy Rick Perry said in a press statement Tuesday.

Trump proposed a 15.1 percent increase to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which monitors the DOE’s nuclear programs.

“It reflects the importance of strengthening our nuclear capabilities, and places an emphasis on early stage energy technology research and development,” Perry said. “As we refocus resources, we will continue to utilize our national laboratories for cutting edge science in order to improve both our energy and national security. I look forward to working with Congress as the budget process moves forward.”

The budget also eliminates a pair of DOE green energy loan programs which lost $2.2 billion dollars between 2008 and 2015, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program saw its budget cut by $109 million, or 43 percent, while the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program was ended almost entirely.

The DOE used these programs to issue roughly $16 billion in loan guarantees to 26 different projects over the years. As of 2015, the GAO concluded taxpayers were securing $28 billion in loans for 30 different green energy projects. Several of the companies that received taxpayer-backed loans went bankrupt.

The administration also calls for increasing funding for the naval nuclear program 6.1 percent, which is $27 million. The budget includes $120 million to advance the nation’s nuclear waste management program, $10.2 billion for nuclear weapons, $1.2 billion to stop nuclear proliferation and $6.5 billion for nuclear clean up efforts.

In addition to maintaining the U.S.’s nuclear weapons stockpile, that agency will fund the long-delayed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility project in Nevada.

The budget significantly decreases spending on research and development in the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, with that organization’s budget falling by 37.7 percent, or $203 million, compared to the previous year. This DOE office supports early stage research and development for new conventional oil, coal and gas technologies as well as technology intended to store carbon-dioxide (CO2).

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