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Gordon Introduces Legislation to Address U.S. Energy Challenges

Dec 6, 2005
Press Release

Today, Science Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) Act (H.R. 4435) to speed the commercialization of energy technologies to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy by 20% in the next 10 years.

Development of a new generation of energy technologies is critical to addressing our nation's future environmental, economic and security challenges.  America is the global leader in technological innovation and nowhere is that more apparent than in university, industry and federal laboratories where some of the worlds best minds are devoted to revolutionizing "energy" as we know it.

Unfortunately, there is little incentive for private and public research programs to assume the sizeable cost and risk required for developing true long-term, transformational technologies.  Furthermore, if this research results in a promising invention, conventional technology transfer methods are inadequate for getting these "products" off the laboratory shelf and into the marketplace quickly enough to mitigate environmental impacts and cut our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and gas. 

Rep. Gordon's ARPA-E legislation establishes an agency within the U.S. Department of Energy modeled after the successful Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

"ARPA-E is a 'call to action,' and it builds on recommendations made by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in their recent report Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future," stated Rep. Gordon.

The NAS panel, led by Norman Augustine - retired Lockheed Martin CEO - found that the U.S. has significant work to do to maintain our global competitive edge, and they outlined a number of specific actions needed to improve our innovation environment here at home.

"When the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued the future prospects for U.S. competitiveness in late October, one thing was quite clear - failure to act on the recommendations in their report would be a failure by this Congress to heed the writing on the wall," stated Rep. Gordon.

The pace of technology development in the energy sector does not match the urgency of future economic, environmental and security challenges.  New streamlined mechanisms for technology transfer are needed to get potentially revolutionary technologies into the marketplace faster than ever before.

"ARPA-E will provide aggressive funding for innovative, out-of-the-box research projects carried out by industry, universities and consortia of groups, including federal laboratories.  This program will give best and brightest science and technology experts the flexibility and resources to develop new technologies through high-risk, high-return research addressing the nation's most pressing energy problems," added Rep. Gordon.

"This unprecedented 'rapid-response' approach to technology development may be the answer to a cleaner, more stable energy economy," concluded Rep. Gordon.

Funding levels in this bill are also based upon estimates from the NAS.  Information about the ARPA-E legislation can be found at the Science Committee Democratic website.

109th Congress