Last Wednesday, the Senate passed the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill (H.R. 3183), appropriating $34.3 billion in energy spending for FY2010. Although the bill made good on Obama’s campaign promise to shut down Nevada’s Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility and funds numerous Army Corps of Engineers’ water initiatives, the bill is shockingly silent with regard to Obama’s energy education program RE-ENERGYSE.
A recent article by TIME’s Bryan Walsh also calls attention to Congress’s stinginess with Obama’s Energy Secretary, Steven Chu’s proposed “energy innovation hubs,” to which the House appropriated $35 million of $280 million he suggested. This allotment is enough to pay for one hub, not the eight R&D centers called for in Chu’s proposal.
These slim-to-none appropriations demonstrate a serious lack of consideration for clean tech research and education – both crucial factors in the effort to transition to a clean energy economy and maintain leadership in the clean tech race. Considering the initial progress the U.S. had already made in clean tech development, increasing funding to facilitate the continuation of clean-tech R&D while simultaneously improving math and science education to usher in a new generation of creative clean-tech innovators could only serve as an enormous asset to the United States.
The importance of fully funding both Obama’s and Chu’s proposals becomes even more urgent in light of the enormous investments that Asian nations like China, South Korea, and Japan are making in clean energy technology. Many, including Walsh, have compared the clean tech challenge to the Apollo project, when the government invested today’s equivalent of $125 billion in both R&D and education in order to land on the moon.
Similar prescience, on the part of Congress and its appropriations, would have stimulated America’s international competitiveness in the growing clean energy economy while motivating our nation’s youth to partake in the clean tech revolution.
Photo Credit: Lost Albatross at Flickr under a Creative Commons License
Yael, a Philadelphia native, recently conquered the cross-country journey to the left coast and is currently a fellow at the Breakthrough Institute, a cutting-edge energy policy think thank at the forefront of the debate on climate change. She writes about clean tech in order to contribute to the discourse on the role of renewables in the world's energy future. When she's not writing, Yael helps organize the annual North American Wine Bloggers' Conference, runs, bikes, hikes, and remains faithfully loyal to her beloved Philadelphia Phillies.