Under a bill approved by the House Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) would suffer funding cuts by about half, falling from $2.1 billion to $1.1 billion. The EERE’s mission, according to its website, is to “create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy. Its vision is a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy.” The office has worked towards federal carbon emissions and energy reduction policies, and cutting these programs leads to higher energy bills for Americans, fewer jobs in the clean energy sector, and increased harm to U.S. manufacturer innovation, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
To date, third-party assessments of the EERE’s research have found that the office’s investment of $12 billion has yielded a net economic benefit of more than $230 billion, with an overall annual return of more than 20 percent. EERE housing initiatives like SunShot would suffer under budget cuts. SunShot, along with other programs, has worked to reduce solar integration costs by 60%. The Weatherization Assistance Program, another element of the EERE, has worked to reduce energy costs for low-income households through improvements in home energy efficiency.
Several senators, including ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), have criticized these proposed cuts in clean energy research. In a statement responding to this budget proposal, Cantwell said it would “devastate an emerging sector of our economy by killing thousands of clean-energy jobs all over the country.” Under the cuts, the EERE would focus its attention and limited resources on the early stages of research and development and leave the later stages of research, development, and commercialization to the private sector. Members of the clean energy sector have expressed disappointment in the new budget, claiming that renewable energy has been a nonpartisan priority for both parties and that investments in clean energy have been paying off. Under the administration’s budget cuts, the EERE will specifically lose about 30 percent of its employees from the 2016 fiscal year. The administration has said that the remaining staff “will ensure continuity of the essential oversight activities for EERE’s project portfolio and maintaining proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
YCA does not support these proposed budget cuts to programs provided by the EERE because of the detrimental impact on the economy and the environment that will ensue. It is essential that the administration prioritizes clean energy.
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