At odds with the global green current, U.S. President Donald Trump has asked the Congress to slash budget for renewable energy by 72%, which may deal a fatal blow to the burgeoning green-energy industry of the U.S.
Should the U.S. Congress approve Trump's long-term budget, the budget for renewable energy will plunge to US$570 million by 2019, down from US2.04 billion now. Meanwhile, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), under the Department of Energy, will be downsized significantly, with the maximum size of its workforce dropping to 450, for loss of 230 openings, and R&D and promotion plans for renewable energy will be scaled down considerably.
With the budget cut, funds for R&D and plan on electric car, solar power, and wind power will also plummet, with energy-saving car and bioenergy to be most affected, whose budgets will be reduced by whopping 82%. Budget for electric-car energy and energy-saving car, for instance, will plummet to US$56 million, down from US$309 million.
R&D budget for solar energy will nosedive by 78%, while prospects for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is dim, as it used to derive the bulk of its R&D budget from EERE, which gave it US$293 million in 2017.
Scale of the proposed budget cut is larger than the scale of reduction last time, as the U.S. government put forth US$636.1 million budget for renewable energy for 2018, which was vetoed by the Congress. The U.S. government has requested to cut renewable-energy budget by US$575.5 million in the budget for new fiscal year, now mired in a stalemate at the Congress, which has passed a continuing resolution, to be expired on Feb. 8, to maintain the operation of the government temporarily.
Preference for thermal and nuclear power
The Trump administration leans towards thermal and nuclear power in its energy policy, arguing that they can be used as base-load power for both industrial and consumption use, thanks to the advantage stable massive supply, despite the flaws of higher burden on the environment and reliance on import for raw materials.
Trump has resolved to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, overturned former President Obama's environment-protection policy, and raised tariffs on imported PV cells and modules, measures which are expected to block popularity of solar panels and dampen related investments, affecting 23,000 job openings.
Rick Perry, secretary of energy, favors nuclear power, arguing that coal-fired and nuclear power are more stable. In Sept. 2017, he suggested the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to help traditional power plants to recover some costs, so as to enhance energy safety.
In a memo on Feb. 1, the Trump administration asked the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to simplify the procedure for land lease, skipping months of environment impact assessment, so that mining and management of petroleum and natural gas can be more efficient. The move has elicited strong backlash from environmental-protection groups. The Wilderness Society, for instance, points out that before 2017, 15 million acres of land had been leased to petroleum and natural-gas companies, with thousands of fields having no licenses for prospecting.
Written by Daisy Chuang
(Image credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)