The Energy Department is closing part of its international office that coordinates renewable energy development with other nations, but that doesn't mean its withdrawing from clean energy development altogether, according to the agency.
"Anticipating a smaller [fiscal] 2018 budget, the department is looking for ways to consolidate the many duplicative programs that currently exist within DOE," said department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes.
"For instance, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has an International Affairs team, while the International Affairs Office has a renewables team," Hynes said. "The department is looking for ways to eliminate this kind of unnecessary duplication — just like any responsible American business would."
The New York Times first reported the closure on Thursday, calling it "another sign of the Trump administration's retreat on climate-related activities after its withdrawal from the Paris agreement this month."
The department quickly took issue with that characterization.
"The premise of the New York Times article claiming that the administration is retreating on its efforts to promote clean energy is entirely false," Hynes said.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry has introduced two new initiatives on clean energy since he returned from attending the Clean Energy Ministerial in China this month, Hynes said, noting that the New York Times failed to mention it. The new initiatives include developing carbon capture technology for making fossil fuel power plants cleaner and advanced nuclear energy technologies.
Perry was at the ministerial meeting when President Trump announced his decision to exit from the Paris Agreement.
Perry remains co-chairman of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center steering committee, along with his Chinese counterpart, Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang.
"He has a proven record of managing under tight budgets and looks forward to working with whatever resources Congress appropriates to accomplish the core agency functions while being respectful to the American taxpayer," Hyne said.
Perry is scheduled to appear before the House Appropriations Committee next week to defend the agency's budget proposal.