U.S. Energy Research Faces a Potential Roadblock (.PDF Download)

July 7, 2017
U.S. Energy Research Faces a Potential Roadblock (.PDF Download)

Federally funded basic research in energy sciences would be eliminated if the current proposed U.S. budget is adopted. To counter this possible loss, several executives from major U.S. companies have pressured Congress to at least maintain the federal support for basic energy research under ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. If ARPA-E is eliminated, it would set the U.S. energy industry back at least 20 years and relinquish U.S. technology leadership to other countries.

An article in the June 9 edition of the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times authored by Steven Mufson headlined the energy research dilemma: “Execs protest plan to cut basic energy research.” The article said that a group of business leaders sent a letter to the House and Senate urging them to maintain basic research funding on energy. The letter was signed by “14 senior figures from the business world.” The letter said that Congress should “invest in America’s economic and energy future by funding vital programs in energy research and development at the Department of Energy.”

Among the 14 companies whose executives sent the letter were American Gas Association, American Air Liquide Holding, Clean Line Energy, Consumer Energy Alliance, Exelon, Lockheed Martin, Nuclear Energy Institute, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pioneer National Resources, Shell Oil, Southern Co., and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

According to Mufson’s article, the current administration has proposed massive cuts in research, including a 35% overall cut in science and energy innovation. The administration has also proposed elimination of the $400-million-a-year ARPA-E program.

The business leaders emphasized that the ARPA-E programs “provide a blueprint for smart federal investments in high-risk, high reward technologies that boost our competitiveness by keeping America at the forefront of global energy technology research.”


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