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ENVIRONMENT

Trump’s Budget Proposal Would Streamline Pipelines, Cut Renewable Energy Research

Trump's budget proposal

Trump’s budget proposal cuts renewable energy spending and streamlines the pipeline approval process.

The proposed federal budget was delivered to congress on Monday, unveiling a plan to cut renewable energy spending as anticipated.

Solar energy development took additional blows during a week that rolled out 30 percent tariffs on imported solar panel products. Currently, about 80 percent of the materials for solar are made outside of the United States.

The tariff was requested by SolarAmerica and Suniva, two bankrupt American-made solar companies who advocated for domestic manufacturing. But representatives of the $28 billion industry say that the tariffs will actually just increase the prices of solar energy development and plausibly kill more than 20,000 jobs.

Trump's Budget Proposal

An array of solar panels supplies energy for necessities at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.

On the same day the tariffs were imposed, the newly announced budget proposed financial cuts of more than 65 percent to a federal research bureau which focuses on renewable alternatives such as solar and wind energy development.

Infrastructure Plan In Trump’s Budget Proposal

Included amongst the increased military spending and reduced clean energy spending is Trump’s new infrastructure plan, which focuses on building and development across the nation. Most notably, the proposal shifts the majority responsibility of infrastructure spending from the federal budget onto the state.

Pipeline Approval Process Streamlined

Trump’s new infrastructure plan also digs cuts into the consensus decision process currently necessary to gain land permits. Judicial hearings are determined unnecessary for all but “exceptional” land hearings and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke would have the ability to executively grant allowance to new natural gas pipelines which cross lands administered by the National Park Service, without consulting Congress.

Zinke has spoken in favor of highly disputed pipelines such as the Keystone XL since the beginning of his term as Secretary of the Interior.

The infrastructure plan argues that obtaining congressional approval causes delays and uncertainties in the development of oil and gas pipelines. And by narrowing the role that the court can play in denying pipeline construction, Trump’s plan effectively limits the methods of protest or even debate against natural gas and oil projects.

In streamlining the permitting process, federal money spent on lengthy court cases is saved and projects left hanging in the limbo of permitting can moved into fruition with greater speed.

But by putting the fate of land use in limited hands, many feel that Trump’s budget proposal endangers what remains of public land.

 

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