A week after the Trump administration imposed stiff tariffs on imported solar panels, it's been learned that the White House is seeking a 72 percent cut in clean energy research, based on budget documents expected to be submitted to Congress for FY 2019.
As reported by The Washington Post yesterday, the Energy Department's budget draft indicates the administration's determination to support fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy sources considered a key to the battle against climate change.
Of course, that's no surprise given the fact that President Trump and other members of his administration, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, deny that climate change exists -- despite mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary.
The Post's article points out that Congress is unlikely to approve all of these cuts, but the pending budget request clearly demonstrates this administration's determination to gut programs that support clean energy, even those that help homeowners save energy costs and reduce energy consumption.
Here's a thumbnail of cuts being proposed:
Slash spending for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) from the current $2.04 billion to $575.5 million. Reduce staff from 680 in the enacted 2017 budget to 450 in 2019.
Abolish the weatherization program, which has trained thousands of workers and helped reduce utility bills for thousands of homeowners.
Eliminate state energy grants.
Axe research in fuel efficient vehicles by 82 percent, bioenergy technologies by 82 percent, advanced manufacturing by 75 percent and solar energy technology by 78 percent.
Cut funds for electric car technologies and fuel-efficient vehicles from the current $307 million to $56 million.
Chop spending on more efficient building technologies and research into geothermal, hydro and wind power.
The Energy Department's 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.” She said "Secretary Perry believes that there is a role for all fuels—including renewables--in our energy mix.”
The tariffs on imported solar panels will be 30 percent in the first year, gradually falling to 15 percent in four years. Those levies were less severe than requested by Suniva and SolarWorld, the two companies that sought the government relief.
Tariffs make solar panels more expensive, and thus discourage their use, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which predicted the tariffs would cause 23,000 installers, engineers and project managers to lose their jobs this year as billions of dollars in planned investment evaporates. Up to one third of the 260,000 Americans currently employed in the industry are at risk because of the tariffs over the longer term, the group said.
So while Trump attempts to bring back "beautiful clean coal" and support those employed in that dying industry, he is sacrificing the jobs of thousands of Americans now working in the solar industry, one that offers a bright future and can help in the battle against climate change. This is a president who brags about bringing back jobs.