If the Trump Administration had gotten their way, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ability to defend our children and the unborn from dangerous pollution would have been severely compromised, and clean-tech R&D funding would be headed in the wrong direction, including the killing of one of the most important programs, ARPA-E.
Thankfully, none of that is going to happen. According to initial press reports, as part of an omnibus spending bill that funds the government through September, the EPA will only sustain a 1 percent budget cut -- rather than the 31% cut proposed by the Trump Administration. If President Trump’s budget had become law, EPA programs that protect children and the unborn, such as one in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention that tests endocrine disruptors, would have had their budget nearly zeroed out. Even a 1 percent cut is the wrong direction, but we’ll take it for now.
On the clean-tech R&D front there is more good news. President Trump’s budget would have done something quite foolish: eliminate ARPA-E, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Instead, Congress will increase ARPA-E’s funding by $15 million. There are other increases as well, such as an additional $17 million for clean energy and science funding. While Congress has prevented some really dumb things from happening, our overall clean-tech R&D funding is quite inadequate; it needs to be tripled over the next several years, with continual increases thereafter.
Finally, we are pleased to see that the spending package includes a permanent extension of health care coverage for coal miners. As we transition to clean energy we must honor the contribution of those who worked hard to help provide half our nation with electricity in our recent past.
There is much more work to be done. But today we pause to express our gratitude to the leaders in Congress who fought to defend the EPA and clean-tech R&D.