Trump Proposes Cuts to Climate and Clean-Energy Programs

In its FY2019 budget and addendum, the Trump administration has proposed sweeping rollbacks to U.S. programs designed to study and mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as cuts to research on renewable energy.

At this point, the budget is merely an opening bid in negotiations with Congress; last year, lawmakers largely ignored similar proposed cuts. Nevertheless, the budget provides insight into the White House’s priorities.

For instance, the EPA budget suggests eliminating the environmental agency’s climate-change research program, which currently costs the agency $16 million per year. In addition, the EPA has proposed axing several voluntary emissions-reductions programs and STAR, which funds environmental research and graduate student fellowships.

Other parts of the budget trim environmental services, such as the EPA’s Report on the Environment, and cut the agency’s Human Health Risk Assessment program by nearly 40 percent.

As it did in 2017, the Trump administration has proposed axing several NASA Earth-science missions, including PACE and OCO-3. (Read more about the targeted missions.)

The budget also calls for shutting down the Earth-facing instruments aboard DSCOVR, which is already flying. These instruments include EPIC, which continually photographs Earth’s sunlit half to measure the planet’s energy budget.

The White House has proposed eliminating the U.S. State Department’s Global Climate Change Initiative, which in 2017 received $160 million in funding. The program primarily aims to help other countries better weather the impacts of climate change. Though most developing countries did little to contribute to ongoing climate change, developing countries will be more severely affected.

The Trump administration’s 2019 budget also advocates for a 55-percent cut in spending on the Department of Energy’s applied R&D programs. The cuts would shrink the agency’s $3.77-billion budget to slightly less than $1.7 billion. In its justification, the White House says that the move would refocus R&D efforts from late-stage development to early-stage research.

At the same time, the budget cuts investments in early-stage research by axing ARPA-E, the Department of Energy’s $305-million advanced research program. The budget also calls for nearly a 40-percent cut to the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, even after accounting for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA), which recently increased FY2019 spending levels.

At the same time, the budget calls for increases in spending on fossil fuels. Including the BBA, the Department of Energy’s budget calls for an extra $281 million on fossil-fuel R&D, $200 million of which would be spent on “clean coal.” (Can coal ever be clean?)

Unlike last year, the Trump administration is no longer proposing the destruction of the popular ENERGY STAR program, which certifies energy-efficient appliances. Instead, it wants to charge companies that seek the labeling, using those “user fees” to make the program financially self-sufficient.

 

Full list at National Geographic