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Published on June 15th, 2017 | by Tina Casey


No, Really: Trump Administration Officially Bullish On Renewables, Bearish On Coal

June 15th, 2017 by  

File this one under W for When will President Trump wake up and do something about that darned Rick Perry? Energy Secretary Perry has been talking up wind and solar nonstop ever since assuming the helm at the US Department of Energy, despite the President’s pro-coal rhetoric. To hammer home the point,  the agency’s entire website has just been entirely revamped to shine a happy light on renewables.

solar energy USA renewables wind

US Energy Department Goes Full Steam Ahead On Renewables

The new Energy Department home page sets the tone with a wide top banner that spotlights three links focusing attention on the agency’s Mission, its network of National Laboratories, and the Million Veteran Program.

The Mission page leads off with this observation (emphasis theirs):

The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.

Okay, that’s a little broad but the image illustrating the mission is the one at the top of this article — a big photo of a large rooftop solar array with the Capitol Building in the background. The photo caption expands on that first thought:

Catalyze the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and secure U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies.

Loosely speaking (very loosely speaking) “clean energy” could include natural gas and so-called clean coal technology. However, the photo offers a powerful visual that underscores the focus on renewables.

The next photo and caption also highlight renewables:

solar cell energy USA renewables

Maintain a vibrant U.S. effort in science and engineering as a cornerstone of our economic prosperity with clear leadership in strategic areas.

Does that mean strategic areas like foundational photovoltaic research? Okay, we get the message!

Now for the crazy sauce: the National Laboratories page weighs in with a pitch for “combating climate change:”

The Energy Department’s 17 National Labs tackle the critical scientific challenges of our time — from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe — and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Yes, they went there. That thing about climate change really jumps out considering that President Trump just “withdrew” the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change earlier this month, but whatever.

Finally, the Million Veterans link circles back around to the national laboratories. The program partners DOE computer capabilities with Veterans Administration data and other health and military partners, practically daring Congress to cut the DOE research budget:

Currently, the United States is the only country in the world with the opportunity to partner such a large scale health database with world leading data analytics capabilities. With this partnership, the US can drive cutting edge technology in next generation data analytics and improve quality of life for veterans and all Americans.


What About Cooooooaaaal?

So, what about it? If you want to find out about so-called clean coal the “Offices” link will take you to the Office of Fossil Energy or anywhere else in the agency that you want to go, but you have to look sharp to spot it (it’s in small font at the top right of the page).

In contrast, you can’t miss the “Science and Innovation” link — it leads off the menu bar right next to ENERGY.GOV.

How’s this for more crazy sauce: the Science and Innovation drop-down menu includes a link for climate change, and it highlights the Loans Program Office — yes, the same program that Republican leadership endlessly slammed during the Obama Administration over its clean energy investments.

The home page also gives a shout-out to one of CleanTechnica’s most favoritest federal programs, Advanced Research Programs Agency-Energy:

Through entities like the Loan Programs Office and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the Department funds cutting-edge research and the deployment of innovative clean energy technologies. The Department also encourages collaboration and cooperation between industry, academia and government to create a vibrant scientific ecosystem.

There’s much, much more, so go check it out if you have a few minutes. While you’re there, don’t forget to scroll down to the #womeninstem feature, where Secretary Perry seems to be laying the groundwork for another run at the Oval Office (all paths lead through Iowa, amiright?).

But really, what gives? How does the Trump Administration get to pump out one strong message after another about combating climate change, developing more clean power and protecting the environment with one agency, while pretty much blowing everything up with the other (we’re looking at you, Environmental Secretary Scott Pruitt)?

Someone over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue fell asleep at the wheel, or Perry is steering US energy policy toward renewable energy — and away from coal — with the knowledge and approval of the President.

Either way it’s a bad look for President Trump, who made bringing back coal jobs one of the central promises of his presidential campaign — a promise that is rapidly being exposed as a fraud.

Seasoned political observers seem to be in agreement that it is fruitless to try figuring out what President Trump has in mind, but it’s kind of hard to resist doing that anyways.

For now let’s just say that the President is hedging his bets on climate change. He does seem awfully attached to his Mar-a-Lago ocean side property and golf course in Florida, where the locals form a powerful advocacy group in favor of climate action

If you think you know what Trump has in mind, drop us a note in the comment thread.

Follow me on Twitter.

Photos: via US Department of Energy.


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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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