A new bill by House appropriators will cancel out most of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to energy spending and development, particularly in the areas of clean energy. The bill also prioritizes nuclear weapons spending and the development of infrastructure.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen voiced his concerns last week to Energy Sec. Rick Perry that the proposed cuts to his agency would disadvantage the United States when it came to international research and development for energy technology, especially with regards to research on fusion power plants.
“National security is our number-one priority, and this bill will fund essential programs that maintain our nuclear deterrence posture in the face of growing global threats – including North Korea and other countries that are testing the tolerance of the international community,” said Frelinghuysen. “Further, this legislation will make important investments in our energy development and water infrastructure to keep our economy growing and to continue the country’s lead in essential energy technology and innovation.”
The new bill would give the Energy Department around $37.5 billion. While the figure is around $200 million below the fiscal 2017 spending level it would still be $3.6 billion above President Trump’s budget plan.
Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request projected significant reductions to Energy Department programs which would spur the development of renewable energy technologies. The House set the budget for renewable energy lower than the Obama administration did, but the new proposed budget was well above Trump’s proposal.
“Renewable energy programs, which have already received significant investments in recent years, are cut by $986 million compared to fiscal year 2017 and increased by $468 million compared to the president’s budget request,” said the House committee.
The committee also increased spending on clean coal, natural gas and other fossil energy technologies, contrary to the Trump energy plan.
“Research and development to advance coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy technologies, which will help the country make greater use of our rich natural energy resources and help keep down energy costs, are funded at $635 million – a decrease of $33 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $355 million above the budget request,” it said.
The area of nuclear energy also got a large increase, about $1 billion dollars for research and development, around $300 million up from Trump’s proposed budget. The largest chunk of money for the bill went to the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration which received around $13.9 billion for weapons activities, defense nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactors. The committee matched the Trump proposal with a $976 million increase above spending levels for the 2017 fiscal year.