March 13, 2018

Cortez Masto Presses Secretary Zinke on Administration’s Proposed Cuts to Renewable Energy Development

Washington, D.C. – At today’s U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) pressed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to renewable energy funding. Cortez Masto cited the administration’s apparent focus on solely defunding investments to renewable energy development, while proposing increased funding for other energy resources such as offshore drilling. 

“Solar now supports more jobs than natural gas and over twice the jobs in coal according to a 2017 Department of Energy report, yet for the second year in a row, the administration’s proposed budget looks at cutting DOI renewable programs by almost half – a proposed fifty percent cut for Fiscal Year ’18 and a forty percent cut for Fiscal Year ’19,” said Cortez Masto. “Looking at these numbers, it appears that renewable energy development is not an important part of the department’s charge. If this administration is committed to what I’ve heard you say time and again ‘all of the above energy strategy,’ then why is renewable energy the only energy program that is proposed to being cut?”

Secretary Zinke responded by saying that the department “looks at the expected demand” of energy sources and went on to argue the consequences of renewables at length, claiming that land where solar energy is developed becomes “single-use.” When Cortez Masto asked to clarify whether Zinke’s primary reason for defunding renewable energy development is the environmental impacts of wind and solar energy, he reiterated that the “budget reflects the expected demand,” adding that there has been a decline in demand for solar energy.

“Did I not just hear you say on offshore oil drilling, there is low demand?” Cortez Masto responded. “But yet you’re increasing the budget.”