Congress Should Oppose Energy R&D Cuts in Energy and Environment

Washington, D.C. – Statement from Michele Stockwell, Executive Director, BPC Action:

“Today President Donald J. Trump released his first budget blueprint, which included significant cuts to critical energy R&D programs. Congress should oppose elimination of funding for the Advanced Research Policy Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) as well as cuts to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and applied research offices. These programs are critical to our ability to compete in global energy technology markets, but also to the competitiveness of energy intensive manufacturing and industrial companies across the country.

“ARPA-E fills a key gap in the innovation cycle by supporting high-risk, high-reward technologies that the private sector will not. As a model for high-impact federal research, ARPA-E has attracted strong bipartisan support for its contributions to American competitiveness. The Office of Science similarly funds critical basic science research through a world-class network of national labs that helped establish U.S. scientific and technological dominance for the last 70 years.

“These budget cuts also run counter to positive actions taken in the last several Congresses. Last year, the Senate passed a bipartisan amendment by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) to increase the Office of Science by 5 percent. Further, the House passed by voice vote an amendment by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) also passed in the House to increase ARPA-E by $19 million.

“As noted by American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC) Co-chair Norm Augustine when he testified before the Senate Energy Committee:

“‘Most federal energy innovation investments are channeled through the 17 National Laboratories, which fill a role otherwise largely neglected by industry: namely, long-term, high-risk/high-payoff, often large-scale projects whose applications may not be evident at their outset. … I understand that the large body of research conducted in the National Labs not only has advanced specific energy technologies, like nuclear power and hydraulic fracturing, but also tends to find applications in industry in non-energy fields.’

“Further, according to Augustine and AEIC co-Chair Chad Holliday, ‘While few outside the industry realize it, the energy boom America enjoys today would not be nearly as robust without substantial investments in energy research and development made by presidents and members of Congress of both parties over the past four decades. These basic science and technology advances, together with private sector innovations and commercialization, helped spawn dozens of technologies, fundamentally transforming America’s oil and gas production, renewable energy, energy efficiency and much else.’

“Federal investments have played a critical role in the early development of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, renewable energy technologies, nuclear energy and carbon capture technologies. Continued progress in advanced energy technologies is vital to our economy but many of these investments carry too much risk for the private sector, making federal support a necessity. Cutting these important research programs risks undermining our economic and energy security. We urge you to oppose the cuts laid out as part of President Trump’s budget.”