114 Lawmakers Push to Fund Clean Energy Research

Rep. Don Beyer

Rep. Don Beyer Cliff Owen/AP

The group wants $500 million for the Energy Department’s advanced research projects agency, which would be eliminated under the White House’s 2020 budget request.

More than 100 lawmakers are calling on Capitol Hill appropriators to increase funding for Energy Department research programs that would be gutted under the president’s 2020 budget proposal.

The group requested more than $720 million to support a trio of research initiatives focused on advancing clean energy technology in fiscal 2020, specifically:

  • $500 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which invests in high-risk, high-payoff research efforts.
  • $111.7 million to the Energy Innovation Hubs, which focus on commercializing scientific breakthroughs in solar energy, desalination and battery technology.
  • $110 million to the Energy Frontier Research Centers, which funds small teams looking to advance chemistry and materials science with energy applications.

“[The Energy Department] plays an important role in the development and incubation of clean energy innovation that benefits our nation and the economy,” the group said in a letter to the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development subpanel. “These programs represent a robust portfolio of energy R&D investments, each of which complements the others to maximize our nation’s ability to achieve energy breakthroughs as quickly as possible.”

The letter comes as the White House proposes substantial cuts to research budgets across civilian agencies.

The president’s 2020 budget would reduce the Energy Department’s research spending by 17 percent and completely eliminate funding for ARPA-E. While the proposal would dedicate $130 million to the Energy Frontier Research Centers, it doesn’t explicitly mention funding for the Energy Innovation Hubs.

The proposal by lawmakers, led by Reps. Donald Beyer, D-Va., Anna Eshoo, D-N.Y., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., would increase the ARPA-E budget by roughly 30 percent from 2019 and hold funding for the innovation hubs at current levels.

“America’s innovation history is built on a foundation of robust federal investment in fundamental scientific research,” lawmakers said. “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.”