Yesterday, President Biden released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget request, also referred to as the President’s Budget. In it, the White House emphasizes the importance of addressing climate change by including a range of measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions across sectors, investing in the future of clean technologies, and increasing use of carbon removal technologies. Per the White House, “the President’s Budget invests a total of $52.2 billion in discretionary budget authority to tackle the climate crisis, $10.9 billion more than FY 2023 or an increase of nearly 26%.”
The proposed budget emphasizes industrial decarbonization, climate and clean energy research, and ecosystem conservation while also tackling challenges to the adoption of decarbonization strategies, including permitting, supply chain, infrastructure, and community transition. The request builds on investments made via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the FY 2023 omnibus appropriation passed by Congress last year.
While little of what the president proposes is likely to be adopted directly by Congress, the Budget still serves an important measure of where the administration’s priorities lay. Here are the top ten carbon management and climate opportunities in President Biden's FY 2024 Budget request.
1. Promote Industrial Decarbonization
The Biden administration’s budget makes industrial decarbonization a priority. The budget proposes a 13.6% increase in funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), amounting to $52 billion. The DOE budget contains $1.2 billion for industrial decarbonization activities, including a DOE industrial technologies joint strategy team to drive adoption of industrial decarbonization solutions and expanded research and development efforts in the new Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office. The budget also includes $160 million to support at least two large-scale industrial decarbonization projects directly benefiting disadvantaged communities funded through the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.
2. Expand Conservation and Nature-Based Carbon Removal
The Biden administration ups its commitments to conservation management practices and nature-based carbon removal approaches. The Natural Resources Conservation Service is requested to receive $1.2 billion for adopting conservation measures and increasing farm income on private land. This funding, a $208 million increase from last year is meant to support the Inflation Reduction Act’s efforts to increase voluntary conservation practices that remove carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production.
The budget also supports aquatic ecosystem conservation by allocating $93 million for Columbia River Basin salmon recovery efforts and $415 million for restoration of Florida’s Everglades. In tandem to these restoration efforts, the Army Corps of Engineers is directed to analyze the lifecycle carbon sequestration benefit of the aquatic ecosystem restoration programs. Additionally, $26 million is requested for the development of a Conservation and Stewardship Atlas to “help inform conservation decisions.”
3. Advance Climate and Energy Research
To advance research on climate science and clean energy innovation, $8.8 billion is proposed for DOE’s Office of Science for clean energy technology solutions, including in support of the CHIPS and Science Act. An additional $1 billion is suggested specifically for fusion technology as a potential source of clean energy. In total, the budget ups DOE’s clean energy research funding by 16 percent from 2023, reaching $9.4 billion. The Net-Zero Game Changer’s Initiative also gets funding for its focus areas, including $580 million for net-zero aviation, $1 billion for net-zero grid research and demonstration, and $1.1 net-zero manufacturing and circular economy research.
Additionally, a collective $5.1 billion is requested for funding a portfolio of earth science and climate change research, adaptation, and resilience measures across other agencies including the Department of the Interior, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Commerce, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
4. Increase Clean Energy Adoption
The budget builds on the Inflation Reduction Act’s $13 billion for clean energy support in rural America. The proposed funds are intended to leverage existing clean energy technology to power our economy while supporting rural communities through job creation. The budget provides $30 million in grants and $1 billion for loan guarantees for farmers and rural small businesses to adopt renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. An additional $6.5 billion in authority for rural electric loans and $15 million to develop the Rural Clean Energy Initiative will help rural communities build and benefit from clean energy projects.
5. Improve Clean Energy Infrastructure & Environmental Permitting
In order to speed the deployment of clean energy technology, the budget proposes several investments to increase permitting capacity and improve decision times. By funding environmental permitting programs, the Federal Government can expedite delivery of new and modernized infrastructure. To hasten deployment of clean energy on public lands and waters, the Department of Interior would receive a $70 million bump from last year—totaling $181 million. This funding would go toward leasing, planning, and permitting of solar, wind, and geothermal energy projects on public lands, as well as transmission infrastructure. The administration also seeks to invest $366 million for understanding climate change impacts on Federal lands, including monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and sinks.
The budget proposes additional investments to meet the administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030. The budget requests $60 million to expand offshore wind permitting activities at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to allow NOAA to use the best available science to help meet the administration’s deployment goal while protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainable ocean co-use.
Additionally, the budget proposes to expand existing transfer authority by enabling Federal agencies to transfer funds provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries to improve efficiencies and increase capacity for environmental planning and consultation.
6. Enhance Supply Chains for Clean Technologies
The budget proposes $75 million for the DOE to carry out the president’s recent determinations under the Defense Production Act to enhance domestic supply chain capacity for key climate technologies. The budget also complements the investments in the Inflation Reduction Act by funding Loan Program Office (LPO) administrative expenses. This allows the LPO to continue to originate and oversee financing for the deployment of clean energy and the development of advanced vehicle manufacturing projects.
7. Expand the Clean Energy Workforce
The White House's request includes $67 million for the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) program. This is an initiative administered in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, and the Northern Border Regional Commission. WORC is designed to facilitate the alignment of workforce development efforts with existing economic development strategies in rural communities hard hit by economic transition, particularly those connected to the energy industry.
The budget supports communities affected by the energy transition through the request of $905 million for DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management “to advance technologies for economic revitalization in energy communities.” Requested funding for the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization aims to work across agencies to engage community stakeholders and support job creation in energy communities.
8. Promote Climate & Environmental Justice
The Biden administration proposes investing $1.8 billion in the EPA and $150 million in DOE for environmental justice initiatives, including to advance the Justive40 Initiative, which was among President Biden’s first executive orders. In addition, the budget requests $15 million for a new fellowship at NSF focused on the disparate impacts of climate change, $35 million for a new laboratory at a HBCU, and $7 billion for programs across the federal government that support economic revitalization and job creation in hard-hit communities affected by retired coal, oil and gas power plants. There is also $48 million proposed for tribal climate resilience, adaptation, and relocation programs at the Department of the Interior and $24 billion for climate resilience programs at multiple agencies to build community resilience to disasters brought on by climate change.
9. Accelerate Clean Transportation
The Biden administration’s proposal accelerates the transition toward net-zero emissions in aviation by requesting $570 million for NASA to explore a suite of carbon-cutting aviation technologies, including hybrid-electric jet engines. Research in this arena will help to meet the Biden administration’s goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions in the aviation sector by 2050.
The budget also requests funds to invest in American–made, zero-emission vehicles through federal procurement. The administration requests $801 million across 21 agencies for zero emission fleet vehicles and associated charging or fueling infrastructure, including dedicated funds for USPS charging infrastructure. By leading the way and providing demand for clean vehicles, the federal government will accelerate American industrial capacity to produce clean vehicles and components.
10. Provide International Climate Support
While many of the president’s climate priorities are domestic, the budget requests over $3 billion for the administration’s pledge to quadruple international climate finance. This funding includes $1.6 billion to contribute to the Green Climate Fund as well as a loan of $1.2 billion to the Clean Technology Fund.
The President’s Budget Reflects a Sustained Climate Commitment
President Biden’s requested budget builds on the momentum of the historic climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act. While significant policy gains have been made, there are still a number of major initiatives, technologies, and programs that could benefit from increased federal investment and support. The proposed budget aims to usher in the benefits of both laws while building a foundation for future advancements, striving for net-zero emissions. The question remains whether Congress will act on this opportunity.