The US Republican Party has introduced a new bill which seeks to dramatically slash spending on renewable energy research programs.
The proposed legislation would cut spending on renewable energy programs by around half and would reduce funding for Energy Department programs, which encompasses the maintenance of America’s nuclear arsenal, by $3 billion to $30.4 billion.
Spending on renewable energy and energy efficiency programs would fall to below $1 billion under the House bill, while funding for research into new energy technologies would plunge to $70 million from the 2013 pre-sequester level of $265 million.
The House bill is one of 12 spending bills that Congress is expected to pass on an annual basis on order to fund the operations of the 15 Cabinet departments and other federal government bodies.
Cuts to funding for renewable energy and clean power initiatives are part of broader efforts by the US Republican Party to rein in government spending.
While the bill is expected to pass through the Republican-dominated House of Representatives as early as this week, it has scant chance of becoming law due to domination of the Senate by the Democratic Party, as well as the prospect of a veto by the White House.
The legislation nonetheless serves as a stark reminder of the disparity in bi-partisan attitudes toward renewable energy, and of the potential impact on the sector should the Republicans return to power.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, the highest ranking Democrat on the energy and water subcommittee, criticized the bill as “abandon(ing) America’s quest for energy independence, which has the potential to create millions of new jobs.”
Efforts by the Republican Party to dramatically reduce spending on renewable energy technologies also runs contrary to the sentiments of most of their rank-and-file supporters, who are emphatically in favour of efforts to shift to more sustainable power sources.
A recent study conducted jointly by Yale and George Mason University found that almost 80 per cent of Republicans and Republican-inclined independents support increases in the usage of renewable energy, while 60 per cent of them hold the view that the United States should do more to tackle climate change.