The White House plans to request massive cuts to the Department of Energy’s renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts in the next fiscal year, according to draft budget proposals.
The Washington Post is reporting that the Trump administration will ask Congress to make a 72 percent cut to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for fiscal 2019. The White House is seeking only $575.5 million in spending for the programs, whereas the current spending level is set at $2.04 billion.
In addition, the draft budget documents obtained by the Post revealed that the White House is also looking to slash staff levels at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy from 680 workers to 450 workers.
According to the Post, Congress is likely to lessen the severity of many of the requested cuts, but the president’s budget is used as a starting point for negotiations for the next fiscal year’s final budget. The finished version of the White House’s version of the budget is set to be released in February.
The news comes just one day after President Donald Trump championed fossil fuels like “beautiful clean coal” during his State of the Union Address, and a week after he imposed a controversial tariff on imported solar panels, in what many industry groups see as a major blow to solar jobs and a threat to solar project proposals.
Trump has also staffed his administration with those who have close ties to the oil industry in Energy Secretary Rick Perry and EPA head Scott Pruitt, and has signed an executive order loosening regulations regarding fossil fuel production.
Digging further into the draft budget, the Post found that the Trump administration will ask Congress to abolish the weatherization program, which has helped reduce utility bills for thousands of homeowners, and seeks to eliminate state energy grants. The budget would cut research in fuel-efficient vehicles by 82 percent, bioenergy technologies by 82 percent and solar energy technology by 78 percent.