Early indications show that the renewable energy industry stands to lose some serious ground in the debt ceiling deal that has gripped Washington for the better part of a month.
The first warning sirens sounded as July came to an end and House Republicans unveiled their wish list for environmental cuts. But as July turned to August and the deal finally got done, the news got no better for those looking to develop clean sources of fuel in the United States.
The second alarm was sounded by the reporters at SustainableBusiness.com, who wrote, “Now funding is likely to be all but erased for renewable energy and energy efficiency grants, renewable energy research, and environmental enforcement.” A Greenwire report quoted Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) pointing out that while the clean energy cuts are a small piece of the debt ceiling puzzle, they are likely to have a large impact on the industry. "It doesn't amount to a whole lot of money, but it will cause a whole lot of anguish," Moran said.
Another report outlined some of the cuts in more specific terms. Politico quoted James Walsh — a former New York Republican congressman and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that handled the EPA's budget — who laid it all on the line. “Walsh predicted spending cuts for Energy Department programs dealing with fuel cells, biofuels, synthetic fuels, wind and nuclear power, as well as Army Corps of Engineers's dredging, sea wall barriers and flood mitigation,” read the report.
The same report said that EPA grants that go out to wastewater, drinking water and pollution monitoring programs will also be casualties of the debt ceiling deal. "With infrastructure, we're already in a big hole," Walsh said. "But this isn't going to help."
While these rollbacks to the emerging clean energy industry could prove to be a major slowdown, all initial reports from the debt ceiling deal show that the $21 billion in government subsidies to oil companies will remain intact. The debt ceiling deal calls for additional cuts to be made over the next few years, so there may be more cuts to come, but if this first round is any indication, it’s not going to be easy being green.