Top Senate Republicans are urging President Trump not to slash funding for Department of Energy (DOE) research programs, following reports that the full fiscal 2018 budget will seek deep cuts at the department.
In a letter sent today, six GOP senators called on Trump to "maintain funding for these critical" energy development efforts.
"Government-sponsored research is one of the most important investments our country can make to encourage innovation, unleash our free enterprise system to create good-paying jobs, and ensure American competitiveness in a global economy," wrote the group, led by Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee.
"The United States cannot overcome scientific obstacles without the combined support of both the private and public sectors," they wrote. "Federally funded research is imperative to ensuring we meet our energy, science, and national security needs for generations to come."
Also signing the letter were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mike Rounds of South Dakota. Collins, Murkowski and Graham are also appropriators.
The letter follows reports that the full fiscal 2018 budget — due to be released next week — will seek upward of a 70 percent reduction for DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The White House also envisions deep cuts to nuclear and fossil research (Greenwire, May 17).
We cannot lose the technological advantages we have gained through our country's investment in research and development.
The senators noted that all these offices received "record funding levels" in the fiscal 2017 omnibus Trump signed early this month.
"We cannot lose the technological advantages we have gained through our country's investment in research and development," the letter concludes. "Governing is about setting priorities, and the federal debt is not the result of Congress overspending on science and energy research each year."
Dems tout clean energy jobs
Separately, Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee today released a report highlighting growth in clean energy jobs, which totaled 3.3 million last year.
"In 2016, more Americans worked in solar electricity generation (374,000) than in fossil fuel electricity generation (150,000). Another 100,000 Americans worked in wind generation and 97,000 in other clean energy electricity sources," the report said.
An additional 2 million Americans work in the energy efficiency sector, including manufacturing and construction. One in five construction jobs, said the report, are related to efficiency.
JEC is preparing similar reports on "the importance of expanding and prioritizing the clean energy economy," according to a statement from Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), ranking member on the panel.
"I have long advocated for growing the clean energy economy in New Mexico and across the nation to create millions of good-paying jobs — especially in rural communities," Heinrich said.
"Congress has an opportunity to act now and make sure that the United States is a leader in this emerging market — and see that American companies and workers are the ones producing and exporting the technology and products to meet this demand.
"Though President Trump and Congressional Republicans have sought to cut programs and reverse policies that support this sector, we must prioritize advancing clean energy to create jobs, spur economic growth, and meet the needs of the future of our economy."