Skip to Content
Climate change

Congress boosts clean-energy research over Trump’s objections

December 18, 2019
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.

Deep Dive

Climate change

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

Radar and laser breakthroughs serve humanitarian ends

Innovations in directed-energy systems could save lives and aid disaster recovery.

This is where Tesla’s former CTO thinks battery recycling is headed

JB Straubel speaks about his company, Redwood Materials, and what challenges loom for batteries.

Why EVs won’t replace hybrid cars anytime soon

Plug-in hybrids won’t get the world to zero emissions, but they can help cut climate impacts somewhat. Toyota is betting they’ll stay in the mix for a while.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.