Lawmakers Pass Spending Bill With Funds for Clean Energy

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Congress cleared a spending bill Friday for the 2018 fiscal year that allocates $1.3 trillion. Despite the Trump administration’s requests for drastic cuts, lawmakers set aside increased funds for clean energy programs. Trump tweeted Friday that he may veto the bill. 

In the final text, the Department of Energy actually received a $3.77 billion boost in funding, bringing the agency’s budget to a total of $34.5 billion. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) received $2.32 billion, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) received $353 million, and the Office of Science — which houses national labs like Lawrence Berkeley — received $6.3 billion. All those budgets were increased from 2017. 

The whopping 2,232-page deal adds specifics to a broad-strokes budget deal passed last month, after a brief government shutdown. It also included late additions and riders, making it a controversial sell for some legislators who said they didn’t have time to digest its contents.

But clean energy advocates felt they came out on top. 

“It’s been a long time coming, but Congress got it right with this bill,” said Ben Evans, vice president of government affairs and communications at the The Alliance to Save Energy, in a statement. 

Other renewables and environmental advocates applauded the legislation as a rebuke of the Trump agenda. 

“This spending bill is a repudiation of President Trump’s extreme budget cuts,” said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski in a statement. “It recognizes that we need more investments — not fewer — to protect public health, boost our outdoor recreation economy, and grow clean energy jobs.”

In applauding the deal, groups also hinted at a sore spot for the administration: competition from abroad. 

“It’s clear that Congress recognizes the incredible value EERE, ARPA-E and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) bring to the research, development and deployment of many important electric power innovations,” said Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO at the American Council on Renewable Energy, in a statement. “Without support for these critical energy R&D programs, the U.S. is at risk of falling behind other countries that are investing heavily in a rapidly growing global renewable energy industry.”

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Managing Director Heather Reams said in a statement that the bill will “allow the U.S. to maintain its global leadership and competitive edge.”

Lawmakers apparently agreed. Many of the programs affected, such as ARPA-E, historically have received bipartisan support. 

In addition to traditional energy innovation programs, the final appropriations bill also sets aside about $2 billion a year through 2027 for wildfire disaster funds and asks utilities to coordinate with government on vegetation management. The Office of Electricity Delivery and Reliability, which focuses on resilience in infrastructure, got $248 million. The Office of Nuclear Energy... Read the rest of the story on HERE