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Beyer, Eshoo, Schiff Lead Bipartisan Group of 115 Members in Call for Funding to Energy Department’s ARPA-E Program, Clean Energy Innovation Programs

Today, Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) led a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies calling for strong funding for the Energy Department’s clean energy innovation programs: Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, Energy Innovation Hubs, and Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs).

The letter comes after the Trump administration FY 2020 budget proposal continues an alarming trend of placing environmental protection and clean energy innovation programs at risk. Specifically, the Administration proposed to zero out funding for the important ARPA-E program for the third year in a row. ARPA-E possesses both bipartisan support in Congress and the support of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who stated last year that ARPA-E “has had and is having such a profound impact on American lives.”

The lawmakers wrote:

“As Members with a strong interest in clean energy innovation and maintaining U.S. global energy leadership, we thank the subcommittee for continuing to fund several key Department of Energy (DOE) research and innovation programs and request that these programs are given high priority as you consider the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. While we support a robust clean energy R&D portfolio with programs and investments across the spectrum from basic science to applied demonstration projects, we are specifically writing to support three complementary approaches to tackling the critical energy innovation challenges before us: the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, Energy Innovation Hubs, and Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs).

“We urge the committee to support significant increases in funding for ARPA-E to enable it to become as transformative and successful as DARPA has been. At current levels, more projects that have the potential to add high value to the ARPA-E portfolio are identified than can be funded. Additional funding for ARPA-E would help achieve program goals and expand its impact by supporting a greater breadth of research and helping to accelerate the development of technologies that have demonstrated early-stage success toward private sector investment. For FY 2020, we request $500 million to enable ARPA-E to continue to invest in innovative ideas and to ensure promising technologies have a chance to demonstrate their full potential.”

“America’s innovation history is built on a foundation of robust federal investment in fundamental scientific research. At the same time, the public sector has a deep history of working hand-in-hand with the private sector to bring the fruits of this research to market, address market failures, provide needed expertise, and raise capital for high-payoff, though riskier, projects in which industry would not otherwise invest. Without such partnerships, the stories of the transcontinental railroad, the aviation sector, and biotechnology industries would be dramatically different. As in these past projects, the government has a critical role to play in helping to support and foster the new ideas that will serve as the foundation for the nation’s future energy economy.”

A signed copy of the letter can be found here.