President Trump’s recent national budget proposal would have a devastating effect on progressing clean energy solutions in our country. Trump’s proposal would slash spending for environmental protection by nearly $2.6 billion, or 31 percent, one of the biggest cuts in the president’s budget. More than 3,000 EPA workers would lose their jobs, and programs such as Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would tighten regulations on emissions from coal-fired power plants that contribute to global warming, would be eliminated. The budget also eliminates funding for regional programs to restore the Great Lakes and clean up the Chesapeake Bay, as well as Energy Star, a popular program to promote efficiency in home appliances. Popular EPA grants for state and local drinking and wastewater projects would be preserved, however, even as research into climate change would be eliminated.
Even with the budget proposal, experts do not believe the momentum of renewable energy installations will slow down. The Clean Power Plan’s effect on renewable installations is negligible in the short-term. The 2018 midterm elections could result in a Congress more favorable to clean energy than the current one. Trump campaigned on a promise to revive the coal industry by slashing CO2-reducing regulations, but industry analysts say clean energy has become so cheap it will continue to increase its domination of the energy industry. Last month, the president rolled back the $1.2 billion Stream Protection Rule. The rule was set in place in the last days of the Obama Administration to protect streams from the effects of nearby coal mining.
The number of coal-fired generators is still expected to be reduced by about one-third through 2030. Last year, production dropped 10.3% year-over-year to its lowest levels since 1986. Coal’s share of total electricity generation, which was 50% in 2005 and 33% in 2015, is predicted to fall to 21% in 2030. Natural gas-fired power plants produce about 33% of U.S. power, nuclear plants produce about 20% and hydroelectric generators create 6%. Other renewables, including biomass, wind, solar and geothermal source account for another 7%. Wind and solar are by far the fastest growing energy sectors, which is highly unlikely to be slowed by regulatory changes at the federal level.
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