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Climate change

Congress boosts clean-energy research over Trump’s objections

December 18, 2019
A solar farm.
A solar farm.
A solar farm.Courtesy: American Public Power Association

This week, the US House of Representatives passed spending bills that add hundreds of millions of dollars for energy research and development, defying the White House’s requests to cut funding in these areas.

Congress has consistently increased energy R&D spending throughout the Trump administration, indicating growing bipartisan support for innovation funding despite disagreements over enacting more aggressive climate policies.

The details: The legislation boosts spending on energy research by 11%, to $8.1 billion for fiscal 2020, according to an analysis by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. That includes increased funding for nuclear energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and renewable electricity. (How much spending increased precisely depends on how you define the categories, and others calculated the figures differently.)

The big picture: R&D spending is crucial for developing cheaper and better clean energy sources, batteries, and other carbon-free technologies. But given the rising dangers of climate change and slow reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, we clearly need additional government policies to push these products into the market faster.

What’s next? The Senate is expected to pass the bills, and the White House has indicated President Trump will sign them.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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