While President Trump’s Administration was proposing coal power at COP24, the United Nation’s climate change conference, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) revealed that the Energy Department is currently sitting on $600 million in congressionally approved clean energy funding for 2018.
“The consequences of the funds remaining unspent with no apparent plan for utilization is not only an insult to congressional direction but undermines US businesses and entrepreneurs in developing the next generation of clean energy technologies,” asserted NRDC Managing Director of Government Affairs Ana Unruh Cohen.
The organization found that the Energy Departments’ Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) office has not spent more than 79 percent of its $353 million FY18 research budget $280 million. The office only awarded $44 million to research and development and it has no plans to spend $162 million of the unspent funds.
Meanwhile the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has failed to spend more than $319 million (14 percent) of its $2.32 billion FY18 research budget, according to NRDC. In the past EERE has not just supported R&D funding but also jobs training programs for veterans, among others. It called actions at EERE more suspicious than at ARPA-E and also noted that Trump tried defund the former by 70 percent and tried eliminate the latter twice.
The funds can support research into developing new generations of renewable energy technologies like wind and solar power. The research helps further reduce the costs of the technologies, making them even more affordable for the public and creates new jobs and businesses.
The NRDC and Cohen sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees on Energy and Water regarding the unspent funds, calling the lack of a plan for spending the funds “uncharacteristic and concerning.”
“Given previous efforts by the Trump administration to eliminate or significantly cut funding for key research programs and offices, NRDC fears that certain administration officials at DOE may be attempting to achieve this objective by blocking clean energy R&D funding from ever finding its way to U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs that are eager to put their ingenuity to work to lead the global transformation to a clean energy future,” Cohen said.
The NRDC noted that research and development spending into clean energy is paying off in droves. “Every dollar of DOE research funding has historically generated huge economic returns for Americans in the form of jobs, lower household energy bills, and other benefits—20 to 1 according to a National Academies study," NRDC’s Jackie Wong and Madhur Boloor wrote in a blog about the lack of spending. They added that since ARPA-E was created in 2009, it provided provided more than $1.8 billion in grants, which have created more than 71 new US companies and attracted more than $2.6 billion in new private-sector funding.
The letter is available here: https://www.nrdc.org/resources/letter-regarding-does-2018-clean-energy-fundingTweet