The Trump Administration Is Withholding Almost $1 Billion in Renewable Energy Funding

Illustration for article titled The Trump Administration Is Withholding Almost $1 Billion in Renewable Energy Funding
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The Trump administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) is holding onto nearly $1 billion of funds allotted for a clean energy program research and development program, congressional Democrats said at a hearing on Wednesday.


Standing before the House Science and Space Committee’s oversight panel, the committee’s chairman Democratic Representative Bill Foster of Illinois, said the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) didn’t spend $823 million in funding appropriated by Congress last year. Those funds were meant to provide grants and other funding to research methods to boost renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency. The office also canceled a $46 million program to fund solar research and development.

Republican Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina said that having unspent “carryover” funds from year-to-year is “business as usual.” But that’s a lot of money to be withholding simply as carryover funding. The $823 million is more than a third of the EERE’s total budget. It’s clear that this is politically motivated.

Trump brags that he’s overseen an expansion of fossil-based energy, and seems to have a weird aversion to even small moves to renewables. Last year, his administration rolled back efficiency standards for lighting that will keep incandescent bulbs around because Trump said LED bulbs make him look orange (...?). He’s recently proposed similar rollbacks for efficient  dishwashers and toilets, too. This is not a man or administration that values efficiency or renewable energy.

So it’s no surprise that Trump’s EERE would underspend its budget earmarked to improve those things. In fact, the Trump administration has proposed cutting EERE’s budget for years. Last year, Trump’s budget proposed cutting the office’s funding by 86 percent. Thankfully, Congress ignored the request and increased its funding instead.

“The magnitude of carryover funds is an indication of whether DOE is following congressional guidance and spending appropriated funds in a timely manner—and more carryover funds means less money from prior years is getting to clean energy innovators to do their work,” said Arjun Krishnaswami, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Energy Program analyst, in his testimony.


Daniel Simmons, the EERE’s assistant secretary, said the department “fully intends to utilize its appropriated research funding.” But Simmons, who Trump appointed to lead the office in 2017, is a critic of renewables research and development. And of course, the Trump administration’s record on clean energy is awful. It replaced the Clean Power Plan with a rule that lets coal plants stay open longer, withdrew emissions standards for power plants, and rolled back auto emissions standards. If we’re going to survive climate catastrophe, we need more, not less, environmental regulation and funding for for renewable energy research and implementation.

Earther has reached out to the committee for more details and will update this post if we hear back.


Earther staff writer. Blogs about energy, animals, why we shouldn't trust the private sector to solve the climate crisis, etc. Has an essay in the 2021 book The World We Need.


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I started working in the environmental business a long long time ago. This shit with republican fucknuts just keeps going on and on and on.

What Trump is doing, with the trillion tree thing and holding R&D dollars, is what republicans have been doing with environmental stuff all along. That is, ratfucking the environment. No, actually, what republicans always do is make environmental stuff be what skinny weaklings, who don’t even lift, like. Where fossil fuel is what hairy chested strongmen, who do lift, like. Hairy chested strongmen who get foxy eastern European women with their muscles.

See, republicans think that it takes a big huge giant coal burning or nuclear power plant to generate strongmen like powerful electricity. Electricity that won’t wimp out. Electricity that’ll power big motors, bright lights at football stadiums and other ballsy shit. Republicans also don’t know much about electromagnetism, and don’t care. But what republicans do know is that those solar panels look like they produce weakling electricity. 

To be honest, maybe it is a good idea for Musk to introduce a ballsy Tesla pickup truck to kick sand in the faces of Fords and Chevys. The whole marketing behind Cyber Truck is to make renewables and EVs hairy chested. And maybe get foxy eastern European women.