Trump’s proposed budget includes cuts to EPA, DOE and USDA

By Erin Voegele | May 24, 2017

President Donald Trump has released his proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018, which includes $3.6 trillion in cuts. According to the White House, the reductions are the most proposed by any president. The proposal includes budgets for the U.S. EPA, USDA and U.S. Department of Energy, all of which face deep spending cuts.

Under the USDA budget proposal, funding for mandatory programs would be $116 billion in FY 2018, down from $123 billion during the current fiscal year. Discretionary funding would also be reduced, from $26 billion in FY 2017 to $21 billion in FY 2018. USDA Rural Development would receive approximately $35 billion under Trump’s proposal. The USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service would be eliminated entirely.  

The proposed USDA budget aims to eliminate all funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Rural Energy for America Program. It also includes no funding for the Biorefinery Assistance Program.  

The proposed budget for the DOE is set at just over $28 billion, including $13.9 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, $6.4 billion for energy and science research and development programs and $6.5 billion for environmental management. Approximately $636 million is earmarked for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, a cut of $1.4 billion compared to the FY 2016 enacted level. This includes $183.6 million to support efforts to make sustainable transportation cleaner and more efficient, $134.3 million for enabling renewable power generation technologies to complete with other electricity without subsidies, and $159.5 million to support energy efficiency to improve affordability, energy security, and energy productivity. The proposed DOE budget contains $349 million for Biological and Environmental Research, a cut of $260 million when compared to FY 2016 enacted levels. That funding, in part, supports the Bioenergy Research Centers.

Under the heading of sustainable transportation, the budget requests $56.6 million to support Bioenergy Technologies, a 74.8 percent, or $168.4 million, cut when compared to the $225.5 million funded in the FY 2016 budget. The bioenergy technologies funding aims to support early-stage research and development with the goal of developing drop-in biofuels and renewable chemicals at $3 per gallon gasoline equivalent in the short term, with a long-term target of $2 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. The funding focuses on the development of renewable gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from non-food biomass. In collaboration with the Vehicles Technology Program, the Bioenergy Technologies will explore the co-optimization of fuels and engines enabling the development of biobased fuels and additives that could realize a 15-20 percent fuel economy gain when blended with petroleum and used in high-efficiency engines.

The budget also aims to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects-Agency, an office within the DOE that supports energy projects. Within the budget documents, the White House argues the private sector is better positioned to financing disruptive energy technology research and development. Modeled after the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is credited with the development of GPS and computer networking, the ARPA-E program focuses on high-risk, high-reward energy technologies. Microorganisms for Liquid Transportation Fuels (ELECTROFUELS), Plants Engineered to Replace Oil (PETRO), Renewable Energy to Fuels through Utilization of Energy-Dense Liquids (REFUEL), and Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) are among the ARPA-E programs that aim to support the development of biobased fuels.

Trump’s proposed budget for the EPA is set at $5.655 billion, a 31 percent cut when compared to the FY 2017 annualized continuing resolution and 30 percent cut when compared to the FY 2017 enacted budget. It also aims to eliminate a number of programs totaling over $1 billion.

The proposed EPA budget eliminates funding for the Clean Power Plan, climate change research and partnership programs, including the Energy Star program.

The budget for the  Federal Vehicle and Fuels Standards and Certification program area, which houses the Renewable Fuels Standard program, is proposed at $760.1 million, a $17.06 million cut when compared to the FY 2017 annualized continuing resolution. 

Regarding the RFS program, EPA documents indicate the agency will continue to implement the RFS program and several other actions required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The documents also note EPA will reprioritize evaluations of new fuel products under the RFS, maintain oversight of the RFS program and continue to evaluate compliance with RFS provisions through its moderated transaction system.