The Trump budget’s misguided energy policy

A harmful abdication of federal responsibility.

Clean, reliable, and affordable energy isn’t just an economic imperative, it’s an environmental and human imperative as well. That’s why the deep and far-reaching cuts announced yesterday in the Trump administration’s expanded federal budget proposal would be, if enacted, unusually destructive. A list of just some of the cuts is mind numbing.

  • DOE Office of Tribal Energy  –  38%
  • DOE Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability –  42%
  • EPA State & Tribal Assistance Grants –  45%
  • Energy Policy and Systems Analysis –  67%
  • DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy –  70%
  • The Energy Star Program –  100%
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Prog. (LIHEAP) –  100%
  • Weatherization Assistance Program –  100%
  • State Energy Programs –  100%

At the same time, the proposed budget calls for broad scale divestitures of publicly held and operated transmission assets by the Bonneville Power Administration, the Western Area Power Administration, and the Southwest Power Administration. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is being redirected from its legal mandate to protect the environment from, among other things, pollutants caused by the production and use of energy.

Collectively these measures represent a near wholesale abdication of federal responsibility for helping cultivate the economic and environmental benefits that come from advancing the development of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies.  The benefits include hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of economic activity, and reductions in pollution and in the emissions that are causing the worst consequences of climate change.

The cuts to clean renewable energy and environmental protection are matched by cuts to human services programs and vital energy affordability programs, such as LIHEAP and Weatherization Assistance. Cutting these programs harms the least fortunate among us and adds to human suffering – people deprived of heat, light, and safe shelter.

The potential consequences are so severe that one must ask, what is the purpose of government if not to prevent or at least fight as best we can against precisely these kinds of outcomes? What are the offsetting benefits that make suffering and the loss of prosperity and opportunity not just acceptable, but preferable?

Aside from vague and unconvincing administration promises of “jobs”, there are no offsetting benefits. That is why the NW Energy Coalition vigorously opposes the proposed budget cuts listed above, among others, and asks the people of the Northwest, advocates, businesses, and policymakers to do the same.