June 1, 2017

Department of Energy Cut by 9%: Some programs fare worse

Posted by Timia Crisp

In the President’s FY2018 budget request, the Department of Energy sees an overall cut of 9% compared to funding in the FY2017 Omnibus bill. While this cut is significant, most research programs under the Administration’s proposal would see even more drastic reductions.

Office of Science cut by 17%

The President’s budget requests $28,042 million for the Office of Science, a 17% reduction from FY2017**. Included in these cuts are reductions in the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program, the Biological and Environmental Research program, and Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS). One of the few Office of Science programs to not face a cut is the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, which would receive about a 9% increase over FY2017.

DOE’s national laboratories will also face significant cuts under the President’s budget, affecting the workforce and operation of facilities. With the proposed cuts, national laboratories would need to reduce staff

Credit: The American Institute of Physics’ FYI

levels and significantly reduce access to the state-of-the-art facilities that support roughly 27,000 researchers across sectors. This table from the American Institute of Physics illustrates the changes in funding from the FY2016 enacted levels by lab and highlights the significance of the proposed cuts.

President Says Bye to ARPA-E.

The President’s budget also phases out the Advanced Research Project Agency –  Energy (ARPA-E). The budget allocates $20 million to manage on-going projects through completion by FY2021 and close the office. Despite the $20 million allocation, the budget request also cancels $46 million in funding for the program, leading to a net reduction of $26 million or -109%. This reduction is not surprising. The Administration proposed to cut the program in the skinny budget. Also, ARPA-E recently froze ARPA-E funds that were not obligated

Nuclear Security wins, others lose. 

The Fossil Energy and Development (FER&D) program will also see significant cuts under the Administration’s plan – a 58.1% reduction. To achieve these cuts, the President’s budget nearly eliminates carbon capture and storage subprograms. Additionally, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will face massive cuts under the Administration’s plan, a reduction of nearly $1.5 billion from FY2017. In contrast to these proposed cuts, the National Nuclear Security Administration at DOE would receive additional funds under the President’s budget.

Overall, the budget estimates that the Department of Energy will support over 27,000 people in FY 2018. Members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources released estimates of the number of potentially lost science jobs under this plan. According to these estimates, we can expect to lose over 17,000 scientist jobs at DOE as a result of the Administration’s proposal.

For more bout the President’s budget request, see the DOE budget highlights and full budget request here.

Concerned about these cuts? You can do something right now. The President’s budget is just a suggestion. Congress has the ultimate say in how our government is funded. Take 5 minutes and speak up for the Department of Energy by sharing with your legislators why this agency is critical to America’s scientific enterprise and energy future.

*The budget requests -$26 million due to a $20 million allocation and a cancellation of $46 million

**References to FY2017 funding levels means the spending levels in the FY2017 Omnibus bill (H.R. 244), which was passed on 5 May 2017.