Funding Proposal Could Boost Cleantech R&D

U.S. senators Lamar (R-TN) and Christopher Coons (D-DE) want to hike the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science budget to $5.4 billion over the next 2 years, which would represent an increase of nearly 23 percent over the current spending level, according to Science Insider.

The proposal, part of a bill to reauthorize the expired 2010 America COMPETES Act, would allow DOE to spend a maximum of $6.9 billion on science programs in 2018, which is a 49 percent increase over the current $4.6 billion science budget.

House Democrats have called for a 33.7 percent increase over 5 years to $6.3 billion, which is less generous that the Alexander-Coons proposal. However, both proposals would represent a larger increase for fiscal 2014 than President Obama’s request for $5.2 billion.

House Republicans have floated a summary of a proposal to boost DOE science spending by 2.7% over 2 years to $4.8 billion, while the Senate wants to increase it by 22.9 percent over the two years.

The Senate proposal would also also increase funding for the Advanced Research Projects-Energy (ARPA-E) to $440 million over 5 years, which would be a 67 percent increase over its current $264 million budget. Over that same period, House Democrats would increase ARPA-E funding by 75 percent to $461 million. There is no proposed ARPA-E funding in the House GOP plan.

While research groups have responded positively to the Senate’s proposal, Congress seldom ponies up the full funding it approves. DOE, for example, only got about $4.6 billion of the $6 billion authorized for its science programs for fiscal year 2013. It is also not certain that Congress will reauthorize COMPETES.

To read the full article in Science Insider cited in this story, click here

Tags: Policy

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