14 industry heavyweights beg Congress not to slash research (Letter attached)

President Donald J. Trump’s proposed budget slashes funding to vital solar research entities and laboratories. In a letter to several Congressional committees, leaders across the U.S. economy are practically begging Congress not to implement them (see the letter below for names and companies).

Since the budget is currently only proposed and has not been passed by either house of Congress – and hasn’t even made it out of committee – the letter comes at a critical time in the process, when the cuts can still be stopped.

And the heavyweights who signed the letter aren’t just your run-of-the-mill environmental activists – companies as varied as defense contractor Lockheed Martin, Shell Oil and chemical giant DuPont, along with three U.S. utilities are doing the asking. The letter was sent to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Budget committees, as well as the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, and began with a strong statement about how important the research is.

As Congress deliberates how to balance competing priorities during the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process, it is our hope that the budget resolution and subsequent allocations enable the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees to invest in America’s economic and energy future by funding vital programs in energy research and development at the Department of Energy (DOE).
The budget Trump sent to Congress included draconian cuts to:
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, better known as NREL, which would see its overall budget slashed 22%, energy-storage research eliminated, and solar energy research cut 22% cut itself.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which would absorb an overall 28% budget cut. As with NREL, energy-storage research is eliminated, and solar’s research budget would also sustain a nearly fatal reduction of 54%.

It also called for

  • the elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which nurtures innovative energy technologies that are too early in the development process to garner private-sector investment; and
  • the gutting of the budget for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which funds research into clean-energy technologies. To an untrained observer, the $646 million it receives sounds good – unless it’s compared to its FY 2017 budget, when it received $2.1 billion. For those scoring at home, that’s a nearly 70% decrease.

After discussing the number of jobs the research coming out of these programs, the leaders wrote:

Federal investments at crucial stages in the innovation cycles provide essential support to private sector efforts in developing energy technologies andresources we can export to meet these needs.technologies that boost our competitiveness by keeping America at the forefront of global energy technology research

Importantly, programs like ARPA-E provide a blueprint for smart federal investments in high risk, high reward technologies that boost our competitiveness by keeping America at the forefront of global energy technology research

That leaders would send the letter now indicates the increased urgency these leaders feel now that President Trump has announced he plans to pursue the cuts in addition to pulling out of the landmark Paris Accords on Climate Change last week. It closed with a final heartfelt plea to keep the cuts from becoming a reality.

Because we share your faith in American ingenuity, we encourage you to enable the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees to help deliver the benefits that energy innovation has consistently provided for U.S. economic and energy security. Continued support for investments in energy research programs across DOE can accelerate innovation and secure America’s competitive advantage at this critical moment for our energy and economic future.
It remains to be seen if the letter has any effect on any of the committees’ deliberations, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye on as the budget debate moves forward.