Trump seeks to cut Energy Department loan, research programs
The Trump administration Monday proposed significantly slashing a handful of controversial loan and research programs at the Department of Energy (DOE).
The cuts to programs meant to help develop innovative energy technologies, which President Trump outlined in his budget request for fiscal 2019, come after he proposed eliminating them all last year.
The Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program and the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) are widely popular among Democrats and some Republicans, and lawmakers worked to restore at least some of the funding last year after Trump sought to zero them out.
The administration said the cuts shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that officials don’t like the programs.
“This biggest reason for that is the accomplishments that these individual programs have made,” Mark Menezes, the DOE’s undersecretary for science, told reporters.
“You’ll see the reason is because all of the goals that [the Office of Management and Budget] has set, the cost reduction goals, these goals have been met or exceeded by most of these programs over the last four to five years,” he said.
ARPA-E and the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program would be eliminated completely under Trump’s proposal, and the other programs would see big cuts.
Overall, Trump is proposing a slight increase in the DOE’s budget, to $30.6 billion from the $30.1 billion the agency gets annually under current funding.
Other major cuts include a $2.08 billion reduction to applied energy programs and $56 million in savings from closing the mixed oxide fuel facility in South Carolina.
The budget is merely a proposal; Congress has the final say on funding levels.
“The president’s budget request supports the Department’s efforts to enhance today’s energy security while also making strategic investments for tomorrow,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a statement.
“This proposal will empower DOE to achieve our missions efficiently and effectively while being respectful to the American taxpayer. In order to fulfill the president’s long-term goal of energy dominance, we are prioritizing the acceleration of transformative early-stage research and development, relying on our world-class national labs. This will advance everything from new clean energy technologies to supercomputing,” he said.
The proposal includes $15.1 billion to modernize nuclear weapons, $5.4 billion for early-stage research and development and $2.5 billion to help produce more reliable and affordable energy.
Trump is asking for $816 million for the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, a cut of $1.18 billion from current levels. Meanwhile, the Fossil Energy office would get $702 million, $281 million above its present budget.
“I think everybody who is in touch with reality will tell you that fossil fuels are going to continue to play a role in the future,” Perry told reporters. “Our goal is to produce it more cleanly. Our goal is to use American technology … to find new ways to develop this energy in the most environmentally sensitive ways that we can.”
Updated at 4:15 p.m.