On Friday afternoon, President Trump signed into law a bipartisan spending bill negotiated in the House to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017. The bill included funding for energy-related programs and offices that the president has called for to be shut down. And late this week, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced internally that it would cancel the subsidy freeze.
The omnibus spending bill was drafted by House representatives over the weekend to avoid a government shutdown. The bill was approved by the Senate on Thursday and with Trump’s signature, it became official.
Under the bill, the DOE’s Office of Science will receive an additional $42 million for fiscal year 2017. Trump’s 2018 budget proposal aims to cut funding for this office by $900 million. That same 2018 budget proposal also called for the elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), but this week’s spending bill will bring ARPA-E $306 million, up $15 million from the year 2016.
The story is similar for the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would scrap the fuel-efficient technology funding program entirely, but this new spending bill allocates $5 million to the program. And the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, another program Trump hopes to eliminate in 2018, will receive $37 million. That program funds technology to combat air pollution and greenhouse gases.
Other increases can be found in DOE’s energy efficiency and renewable energy budget, which will receive an increase from $17 million to $2.1 billion, according to Bloomberg BNA, or nearly the same as what it received in 2016. Trump also plans to cut funding for this program in 2018. For now, that extra money may clash with the bureau’s leadership. Earlier this week, it was reported that Trump had informally nominated Dan Simmons to head the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Simmons is a vice president at the Institute for Energy Research who has worked against renewable energy policies during his time there.
Outside of the Department of Energy, other agencies see a bipartisan agreement on funding that appears to counter the president’s call for massive cuts in energy-related activities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose budget Trump plans to cut by a third in 2018, will only receive a one percent cut this year. And the Department of the Interior, whose budget the administration plans to cut by 10 percent next year, got a $253 million increase from 2016.
The news is a temporary reprieve for offices and programs whose grants have been frozen for the past few months. According to E&E daily, DOE employees received a memo Thursday that the department “would honor all commitments for funds previously required for grants and collaboration agreements.” A spokeswoman said E&E that that “includes funding agreements for the entire agency and not just ARPA-E.”