March 12, 2019 - President Donald Trump's fiscal 2020 year budget proposes less restrictive cuts for coal-related programs than for other government areas, in some cases even increasing funding.
The proposed budget released today would trim funding to the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) by 11.7pc and 23.2pc, respectively, to $1.4bn and $634.1mn for the year starting 1 October. And the Department of Energy budget would decrease by 11pc to $31.7bn.
Those proposed reductions pale with the 31pc cut planned for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The administration said it is putting a priority on finalizing rule proposals including EPA's Affordable Clean Energy rule and revisions to the Waters of the US rule. It also wants to increase spending on fossil fuel research and "cut red tape" that has lengthened the permitting process for energy projects.
"The United States has among the most abundant and diverse energy resources in the world, including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and renewables," the administration said its proposal for the Energy Department. "The ability of entrepreneurs and businesses to commercialize technologies that take full advantage of those resources is paramount to promoting US economic growth, security, and competitiveness."
The budget would expend Energy Department spending on research and development of early-stage nuclear and fossil fuel technology by $127mn and increase overall appropriations for the Office of Fossil Energy Research and Development by $60mn, to $562mn. It also would increase spending on improving the mine review process within OSMRE by $3.8mn and raise BLM's coal management program funding by $7.89mn, to $19.8mn.
At the same time, the administration is proposing reducing some renewables funding, including eliminating the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program. The department is proposing cutting the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's budget to $343mn from $2.3bn, although funding would be supplemented with prior year balances of $353mn.
The administration's plan faces significant hurdles within Congress. Lawmakers rejected the last two proposed budgets, which also sought deep cuts to non-defense spending. And Democrats, who are now in control of the US House of Representatives, have expressed opposition to funding cuts on programs related to energy efficiency, advanced renewable energy technology and climate change.
EPA total appropriations would sink to $6.07bn from the $8.83bn allocated in the agency's fiscal 2019 continuing resolution. This includes a $3mn increase in appropriations "to execute a delegation to states and to develop and implement a permit program for coal combustion residuals."
The US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), meanwhile, is proposing consolidating coal and non-coal mine enforcement activities. That "would provide the flexibility to address industry changes and maximize the efficient use of MSHA's resources," the Department of Labor said.
The department wants to set aside $262.6mn for the restructured enforcement arm, which is $273,000 less than what was enacted for the divisions in fiscal 2019.
The administration is proposing a total $376mn in appropriations for MSHA this coming year, up from $373.8mn enacted for the current year. Most of the increase is for information technology modernization.