Joint U.S. House-Senate committee quietly maintains funding for renewable energy, ARPA-E in FY2019


Despite all of the pro-coal rhetoric from the Trump Administration, the U.S. Congress appears to understand that the future lies with renewable energy.

Earlier this week a joint committee of the U.S. House and Senate produced an energy and water bill that would retain funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at $2.38 billion, or roughly at fiscal year (FY) 2018 levels.

Additionally, the bill would keep funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) at $366 million.

The U.S. House had attempted to cut funding for both programs, with its budget reducing EERE by 10% and ARPA-E by 8%. But it appears that the more mature voices in the U.S. Senate have largely prevailed.

The bill maintains also the Tribal loan guarantee through September 30, 2020, with a $1 million budget, although it is unclear how much could be borrowed through this program. Overall, the report dedicates $13.5 billion for energy programs, $554 million above fiscal year FY2018 levels.

The conference committee is certainly not crowing about this funding, and a summary of the bills on the committee site did not even mention EERE or ARPA-E.

There are other aspects of the report which still show an attachment to conventional energy. The joint House-Senate committee’s report proposes sinking $740 million into advanced fossil technologies, despite the fact that projects like the Kemper coal CSS project have been colossal failures, as well as increasing the nuclear energy R&D budget by $108 million to $1.2 billion.

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), a non-profit created to engage Republican politicians and the public about energy issues, praised the budget.

“Support for energy innovation to develop needed clean energy technologies ignites economic growth, protects our national security and creates good paying jobs for Americans across the country,” said CRES Managing Director Heather Reams.

This budget will now go to the House and Senate for final approval, before it goes to the desk of President Trump. And while these funding levels go against the president’s stated priorities and his budget requests, so far he is generally losing these battles with Congress.

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