by Brian Harms and Emily Prince

On Thursday, March 16, the Trump Administration released its 2018 budget blueprint, which shifts away from many of the Obama Administration’s chief initiatives as related to clean energy. While not surprising, the new Administration’s approach to the 2018 budget is to cut spending and reduce regulations.  The proposal demonstrates that goal and “the Administration’s commitment to reasserting the proper role of what has become a sprawling Federal Government.” The White House will release the full budget in May, but this blueprint provides some guidance on the Administration’s direction moving forward.

The U.S. Department of Energy budget blueprint would shrink the overall budget 5.6% from 2017 levels to $20.8 billion. While the overall budget would decrease, Trump proposed an 11% ($1.4 billion) increase to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees nuclear weapons and falls within the umbrella of the DOE. Accordingly, the 5.6% overall cut may be a bit misleading.  

The budget proposal eliminates the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which has been a significant source of federal funding for many energy technologies including battery storage, biofuels, and electric vehicles. In addition, the cuts include the elimination of the DOE’s loan guarantee program for innovative technology and advanced vehicle technologies. The budget also cuts a program funding clean energy development in states. The budget proposal asserts that the “private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.”

The budget proposal also shrinks the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the Office of Nuclear Energy, and the Fossil Energy Research and Development and restricts each office to early stage, applied energy research.

At the U.S. Department of Interior, the budget proposal shrinks the budget 12% from 2017 funding to $11.6 billion. The proposal boosts funding for energy development on public land and in public waters. The proposal also keeps all funding in place for the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, which is responsible for collecting royalties from coal, gas and oil development on federal lands.

No specific numbers were included for the Department of Interior, but the proposal stated that the agency would shrink costs by reducing funding for low-priority programs, cut duplicative and overly burdensome programs, and cut funding for federal land acquisitions.

While the cuts to the Departments of Energy and the Interior are significant, President Trump has made it clear that his focus is to reduce overly burdensome regulations, including environmental regulations since he has also proposed to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31%.