WASHINGTON, April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ClearPath Action, a 501(c)4 working to accelerate conservative clean energy solutions lead by conservative philanthropist Jay Faison, today released a joint letter with Innovation Reform Action Project executive director Sam Thernstrom. The letter commends Congressional appropriators on their fiscally-sound approach to the proposed budgets in the FY2017 Energy and Water Appropriations bills and urges lawmakers to focus funding on fundamental energy innovation programs that can contribute to our nation's long-term energy policy goals.
The full text of the letter is included below:
Chairman Thad Cochran U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Washington, DC 20510
Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Washington, DC 20510
Chairman Hal Rogers U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Washington, DC 20515
Ranking Member Nita Lowey U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Washington, DC 20515
Dear Members of Congress:
On behalf of ClearPath Action and the Innovation Reform Action Project, we write to express our appreciation for your efforts to develop fiscally responsible energy appropriations for FY 2017, and to urge you to focus funding on fundamental energy innovation programs that have the greatest potential to contribute to our nation's long-term energy policy goals.
When it is well-designed and executed, research and development conducted through the Department of Energy (DOE) can spur economic growth by laying the groundwork for the development of new energy technologies that the private sector can commercialize. In this role, government-sponsored research is a natural complement—not a competitor—to private research.
New energy technologies typically do not come from "eureka" moments. They emerge from sustained investments in R&D over decades: nuclear power, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling of oil and gas deposits, and solar energy were all products of sustained DOE research. Given the long-term, consistent support required for these advances, we urge appropriators to make multi-year commitments when possible; science does not run on a 2-year political cycle.
Moreover, we applaud efforts, like those found in the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which just this week passed the Senate, to improve the operations of our Federal innovation engine. In order to maximize every dollar spent on R&D, the efficiency of our energy research should be continuously improved by streamlining the Department of Energy's innovation engine and relationship with the national labs.
To that end, we offer several comments on the proposed budgets in the Energy and Water Appropriations bills currently moving through both Houses. First, we support both subcommittees' decisions to raise FY2017 funding for the Office of Science to $5.4 billion. Because basic science research is so important to discovering energy breakthroughs, both houses should continue to look for responsible opportunities to increase the Office of Science budget throughout the process.
The House's decision to increase funding for ARPA-E to $305 million is also encouraging—ARPA-E represents one of DOE's most important areas of R&D, and has stimulated $1.25 billion in private sector investment since the program's inception.
The subcommittees' joint commitment to advanced nuclear energy research that promises safer, cheaper, and cleaner energy is also commendable. Nuclear energy is the most reliable source of clean energy in the United States (as well as thousands of jobs), and America's longstanding commitment to the nuclear industry allows us to export these technologies for peaceful purposes. Today, we must ensure that public policy supports the modernization and expansion of our domestic nuclear industry. As our existing nuclear fleet ages, DOE must facilitate the development of next-generation reactors. One important contribution to that effort would be a DOE-built and operated facility (or facilities) to test next-generation reactor designs. The Office of Nuclear Energy's increased funding level supports these priorities. Further, we applaud both subcommittees' decision to fund the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's $5 million request for advanced reactor licensing development, another important step forward in the effort to accelerate development and demonstration of new nuclear energy technologies.
The subcommittees' joint commitment to maintaining research on our abundant fossil resources is also critical. Carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies are potentially indispensable to managing the emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants while maintaining fuel diversity and reliability of power generation in the United States. Efforts to demonstrate these vital technologies at scale, such as the Texas Clean Energy Project, are very promising, and should receive the full funding allocated under the stimulus bill.
We appreciate that Congress is operating in a tightly constrained budget environment, and applaud your continuing efforts to control costs. Given this, we believe that appropriators would be justified in re-allocating funds from other areas of the DOE budget, such as the House's decision to lower support for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to increase funding elsewhere. We do urge the committees to focus EERE budget reductions on programs that are designed to commercialize technologies—which we believe the private sector can do—while preserving research support for nascent technologies such as hydrokinetic energy and enhanced geothermal systems.
We believe the recommendations from each subcommittee collectively represent a step in the right direction by increasing funding for energy research while refocusing it on critical developing technologies. Funding for energy research should be both steady and focused, and should be accompanied by strong oversight, and legislative reform, of DOE and the national labs.
Jay Faison President
ClearPath Action Fund for Conservative Clean Energy, Inc. 300 New Jersey St, NW, #907 Washington, DC 20001
Samuel Thernstrom Executive Director
Innovation Reform Action Project 2433 N. Kenmore St. Arlington, VA 22207
Cc: Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Harry Reid, Representative Mike Simpson, Representative Marcy Kaptur, Representative Paul Ryan, Representative Nancy Pelosi