Energy Department aims to close international clean energy office

Energy Department aims to close international clean energy office

The Energy Department (DOE) has shuttered its office that focuses on developing clean energy technology internationally.

An agency spokesperson said DOE is “looking for ways to consolidate the many duplicative programs that currently exist within DOE,” and that the Office of International Climate and Technology would close. 

The New York Times first reported the closing on Thursday. The Times reports employees were told earlier this month that their positions were being eliminated. 

The office — consisting of 11 workers — opened in 2010 as a way for the U.S. to work with international allies on energy sector technology to reduce greenhouse gases. 

Employees in the office work with international partners on the Clean Energy Ministerial, an annual gathering of high-polluting nations that focuses on greening the energy sector. 

DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said other offices within the department have international teams that could shoulder the work of the closed office. 

“The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has an International Affairs team, while the International Affairs Office has a renewables team,” she said. 

“The Department is looking for ways to eliminate this kind of unnecessary duplication — just like any responsible American business would.”

News of the office’s closing comes as the Trump administration moves away from climate change work, both internationally and domestically. 

Trump this month said he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal, an international agreement to cut energy sector greenhouse gas emissions. 

Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Defense: Trump replaces McMaster with Bolton | .3T omnibus awaits Senate vote | Bill gives Pentagon flexibility on spending | State approves B arms sale to Saudis Overnight Energy: Winners, losers in omnibus bill | EPA funding stands at .1b | Lawmakers get wildfire funding fix Perry cites competition from Russia, China to defend nuclear talks with Saudis MORE, in April, held up a pronouncement from Group of Seven (G-7) energy ministers because of its language on climate change. The U.S. also did not endorse language in a G-7 environmental minister declaration that noted the group’s efforts to confront climate change. 

Trump’s 2018 budget proposal slashes funding for both DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including cuts for climate change initiatives and research efforts. Congress has to vet that budget and will pass funding bills on its own.   

Environmentalists criticized the decision to close DOE’s international office. 

“Willfully ignoring the climate crisis is recklessly and unnecessarily dangerous for families and communities across the country, and it’s clear that Trump will stop at nothing to completely isolate the United States and irreparably damage our reputation with the rest of the world,” said John Coequyt, the global climate policy director at the Sierra Club. 

“Ignorance is not diplomacy, and if Trump were acting like a leader, he would know that.”

Hynes, though, said the Trump administration is not ceasing its clean energy efforts, noting Perry’s support for carbon capture storage and nuclear energy efforts at a recent Clean Energy Ministerial.