Energy Department Halts Funding for ARPA-E Grants

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By Rebecca Kern

The Energy Department is halting grants for early-stage innovative technologies as part of a larger review of the department’s programs and policies.

The Trump administration proposed cutting the Advanced Projects Research Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) office, which invests in early-stage, high-risk energy technologies that have potential to transform the nation’s energy system, in its fiscal year 2018 budget request.

“As with any transition from administration to administration, we have undertaken a full review of all department programs, policies and taxpayer-funded grants,” a department spokesperson told Bloomberg BNA.

“This is nothing more than applying good-governance principles to how these programs are being executed,” the spokesperson said.

Staff Told to Halt Grant Work

Jeff Eagan, president of the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 213 at Energy Department headquarters, said Energy Department staff have been told to stop pursuing the grants. The department’s latest budget included $280 million in grant money.

Eagan said other government offices that have been proposed to be cut by the FY 2018 budget are being told they have to stall work to provide program grants from previously appropriated funds that are meant to be awarded to recipients such as industry groups and academic institutions.

Other offices that have been proposed to be cut in the budget are the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which provides loans to support the production of fuel-efficient automotive technologies, and the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, which funds high-risk technology that aims to avoid, reduce or sequester air pollutants or greenhouse gases.

The budget also proposes to eliminate the Weatherization Assistance Program, which enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. It is also requesting to cut the State Energy Program, which provides funding and technical assistance to state and territorial energy offices to help them advance their clean energy economy.

The budget request justified the cuts by saying that private industry is “better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.”

The White House has said it plans to submit a more detailed budget request to Congress by mid-May.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington at rKern@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Connolly at PConnolly@bna.com

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