President Trump's upcoming fiscal 2019 budget will ask for a 72 percent cut in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs within the Department of Energy, a new report says.
According to draft budget documents obtained by the "Washington Post", Trump will ask for $575.5 million for the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), along with substantial staff cuts. The department's budget is currently $2.04 billion.
Trump pushed for a two-thirds budget cut last year, to $636.1 million, which Congress did not approve. The federal government has continued operating on current spending levels via a series of continuing resolutions passed by Congress. The last resulted in a government shutdown; the latest will expire on Feb. 8.
The budget also asks for 230 layoffs in the department, reducing the staff to 450, the "Post" reports. The budget is set to be unveiled next month.
EERE conducts research and development to create renewable technology and greater energy efficiency. The draft budget includes an 82 percent cut to research on fuel-efficient vehicles, an 82 percent cut on research about bioenergy and a 78 percent cut for solar energy technology research, the "Post" reports.
The White House said it wouldn't comment "on any leaked or pre-decisional documents prior to the release of the official budget."
Energy Department spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said that “anyone who questions this Administration's commitment to an all-of-the-above energy approach simply look at our record."
President Trump is no fan of renewable energy, choosing instead to advocate fossil-fuel consumption, including what he called in his State of the Union address "beautiful clean coal." Scientists concur that the concept of "clean coal" is an oxymoron and it remains the dirtiest method of energy production. Whether it's beautiful is up for debate, if anyone wants to have it.
Trump's proposed budget is his second recent blow to renewable energy. He recently announced a 30 percent tariff on solar panels made overseas, which the solar-energy industry says will result in 23,000 lost jobs this year.
At the same time, Trump's promise to increase coal jobs have hit a roadblock. CNN reported on Jan. 10 that the industry added only 500 jobs last year; a recently announced mine closure in West Virginia will lay off 370, wiping out almost all those gains.