Energy & Environment Subcommittee Markup -- H.R. 364
Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon
I would like to thank Chairman Lampson and the other Members of the Energy & Environment Subcommittee for their assistance in bringing H.R. 364, a bill to establish an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, before the Subcommittee this morning.
I first introduced this bill in the 109th Congress in response to recommendations in the National Academies report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm.
This report recognized that the U.S. dependence on traditional energy sources and outdated technologies puts us in a perilous position.
We cannot afford to wait until we face severe disruptions to fossil energy supplies or serious impacts from climate change to address this challenge.
The Gathering Storm report recommended establishing ARPA-E, modeled on DARPA’s successful innovation model, to sponsor creative, out-of-the-box, transformational energy research in those areas where the private sector cannot or will not invest on its own.
DARPA succeeded largely because it fostered a culture of innovation. We cannot legislate an agency’s culture. But we can set up a nimble organization with minimal administrative layers and the ability to quickly start and stop research programs. These elements are key to the success of ARPA-E, and to transforming energy R&D from the laboratory bench into market-ready technologies.
This transformation simply won’t happen on the cheap. We must commit to providing adequate resources to get us there. We simply have not been making the kind of investments needed to move us into a new energy future.
During the past 35 years, we have become more dependent upon foreign energy supplies and greenhouse gas emissions have grown so that we face an uncertain future due to climate change.
During this same time period, federal investment in energy technology R&D has declined by 85% from its peak in 1978. We must reverse this trend.
Investment in ARPA-E must be seen as the first step in boosting energy research and development to a level that addresses the true scale of the challenge before us, and the true cost of doing transformational research.
Establishing an ARPA-E in H.R. 364 is a bold step, but we’ve got to be willing to push this envelope, make some tough but firm commitments to get the job done.
I appreciate my colleagues’ support, and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you as this legislation moves forward.
Opening Statement By Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson
Today we will consider two bills that represent another step in this Committee’s efforts to push the envelope of technological possibility, and provide the American people a future with cheaper, cleaner, better energy options.
For decades my district has been synonymous with oil and gas (or Energy, generally). To a large extent it has been the economic foundation for this area, for the great State of Texas, and even for the Nation.
And the truth is that we should expect that oil, gas and other more traditional sources of energy, such as coal and nuclear, will provide much of our nation’s energy for decades to come.
But the winds of change are blowing, and the folks in my district know as well as anyone the predicament we face in sky-high energy prices, the environmental impacts of our energy use, and the critical need for maintaining jobs in the energy sector.
In this respect, the nation faces a challenge like none we have encountered before. Unlike the Apollo and Manhattan projects, which galvanized our nation’s scientist to win a global race to put a man on the moon, or create a “weapon to end all wars”, there is no finish line in this race.
We are attempting to transform a national, and to some extent global, economy which is based on only a handful of unsustainable energy resources. Resources that we know will simply not last.
Despite their remarkable technological advances, we can’t expect the energy industry, and the current programs at the Department of Energy to tackle these problems on their own.
Only through ground-breaking research, and the development of truly transformational technologies, can we begin to match up to the scale and complexity of these challenges.
This requires from us a rock-solid commitment to innovative energy R&D, and a leap of faith that somewhere on the shelves of our national labs, in the garages of our nation’s inventors, and in the halls of our research universities, there are discoveries and technologies waiting to be exploited by a new energy industry.
The two bills that we are here to markup today represent the kind of bold efforts that are needed in advancing energy research, and ensuring the U.S. maintains a lead in these emerging technology fields.
Therefore I urge their passage, and look forward to getting them to the House floor.