U.S. House proposes budget increases for energy, environmental research programs

Key research programs at the energy and interior departments would get budget increases—not deep cuts proposed by President Donald Trump—under proposed 2020 appropriations bills released today by spending panels of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would also see a hefty increase in its science budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins on 1 October, under plans released by the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Appropriations.

Highlights of the proposed budgets include:

  • The science office at the Department of Energy (DOE) would see an increase of 4.3%, or $285 million, bringing it to $6.87 billion. In contrast, Trump had requested a cut of 16.5%, or $1.1 billion.
  • DOE’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs would get a boost of 11.4%, or $273 million, to $2.65 billion. The administration had requested a cut of 86%, or $2 billion.
  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would receive an increase of 16.1%, or $59 million, to $425 million. Trump had proposed eliminating ARPA-E.
  • Overall, DOE’s budget would grow to $37.1 billion under the House proposal. That is $1.4 billion above its current budget, and $5.6 billion more than the president’s budget request.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey, part of the Department of the Interior, would get an increase of 6.5%, or $75 million, to $1.24 billion. The administration had requested a cut of 15.2%, or $177 million.
  • Core science and environmental programs at EPA would receive $3.41 billion, an increase of $105 million above current levels and $1 billion above the president’s request.

The bills released today provide only top-line numbers. Additional details will become available after the full appropriations panel votes on the bills. That process will begin on Wednesday when appropriations subcommittees are scheduled to approve the energy and interior appropriations bills.

The House bills will require reconciliation with versions produced by the Senate, which has yet to release its proposed spending levels. And it is not clear whether Congress and the White House will be able to agree on spending plans before the 2020 fiscal year begins this fall. If no agreement is reached, current spending levels could be extended into the new fiscal year—or, in case of an impasse, the government could shut down.