President Trump’s new budget proposes eliminating the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program, along with other important avenues for clean energy innovation. It comes as no surprise. This administration has been chipping away at new energy tech for months. In April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry inexplicably withheld grant funding for previously approved ARPA-E projects. This provoked a bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill, because federal law requires agencies to spend the money Congress gives them, and several senators asked the Government Accountability Office to sue the DOE for not processing the existing awards. Last week, Perry relented somewhat by lifting the agency’s freeze on federal grant funding for innovative research—greenlighting just two previously approved projects. That prompted several House members to send a bipartisan letter to Perry criticizing the Trump administration for “thwart[ing] the intent of Congress by withholding or impounding funds” for ARPA-E projects and demanding the release of any remaining FY 2016 funds. As for hamstringing future energy innovation in our country, Trump’s budget is in for a fight.
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