President Trump’s Budget Plan Targets Energy Efficiency Programs

President Trump unveiled his budget plan on Monday, February 12, which included cuts to energy efficiency programs.

The Trump administration is seeking $30.6 billion for the Energy Department, a figure that includes an additional $1.5 billion authorized under a two-year budget deal that Congress approved last week. Much of the additional funding, $1.2 billion, goes to the Office of Science to pay for basic scientific research.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry in a statement said the budget request supports the agency’s push to enhance energy security and modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile, while boosting funding for cybersecurity and emphasizing the role of the 17 national laboratories that do cutting-edge research on everything from clean energy technologies to supercomputing to nuclear science.

The budget again proposes steep cuts to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and calls for eliminating the department’s loan program and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, its innovation arm. Members of Congress from both parties support all of the programs and are likely to restore much of the funding for them, although the loan program could face cuts. The Senate approved record funding levels for ARPA-E for the current budget year despite President Trump’s plan to dismantle it.

The National Home Performance Coalition opposed the budget plan, saying programs like the Weatherization Assistance Program, Energy STAR and the State Energy Program are zeroed out completely in the President’s budget.  The president’s budget calls for companies to have to pay to receive Energy Star approval.

“As an alliance of like-minded organizations working to ensure all homes are healthy, comfortable and energy efficient, we urge Congress to reject the President’s cuts and demonstrate the priorities of the American people with continued access to affordable, resilient, energy efficient, residential buildings,” said Keith Aldridge of HPC. “Our overarching mission is to support the reduction of home energy use and the creation of energy resilient and sustainable communities, for all Americans.”

The budget still needs to head to Congress, where significant changes are expected.  Presidential budgets are often declared dead-on-arrival in Congress where lawmakers have their own ideas about spending priorities. But the documents do represent the most detailed elaboration of an administration’s priorities.

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