President Trump has released his FY2018 Budget Blueprint that proposes to significantly reduce the size of government, eliminate “unnecessary and wasteful” regulations, and increase defense spending by $54 billion paid for by targeted reductions elsewhere.
Of interest to CONEG, the budget proposes steep cuts to many energy and transportation programs including the elimination of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which the budget claims has been unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes. DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, State Energy Program, Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) and HUD’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are also targeted for elimination. Although the Blueprint does not provide dollar figures, it indicates “support” for the cybersecurity and grid resiliency activities of DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
In transportation, the Budget reduces DOT’s discretionary budget by $2.4 billion or 13%; “restructures and reduces" federal subsidies to Amtrak to focus resources on the parts of the system that provide "meaningful transportation options within regions" and eliminates funding for Amtrak’s long distance train services to allow Amtrak to focus on its State-supported and NEC services. Funding for FTA’s New Starts would be limited to projects with existing full funding grant agreements, and funding for FAA’s Essential Air Service (EAS) program would be eliminated. FEMA and TSA grants to state and local governments are also significantly reduced.
The budget proposes $5.7 billion for EPA - a 31% cut – but increases funding for critical drinking and wastewater infrastructure including the State Revolving Funds. As expected, funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and the Energy Star Program is discontinued.
Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate appropriations committees will hold hearings on the President’s FY2018 budget request. At the same time however, the FY2017 appropriations bills need to be finalized.