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Subcommittee Advances Energy Components to be Rolled into 2010 America COMPETES Act

Mar 25, 2010
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Today, House Committee on Science and Technology’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee held a markup on a Committee Print

on Department of Energy programs, which included the titles: Department of Energy Office of Science Authorization Act of 2010; ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2010; and Energy Innovation Hubs Authorization Act of 2010.

“Spanning the full gamut from the most basic research all the way to commercial applications, these three programs represent the forefront of our nation’s effort to lead the world in the development and production of technologies for a clean energy economy,” said Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA).  “The intention is for these three titles to make up the bulk of the Department of Energy’s research programs in COMPETES.”
 
The Committee print included a title with legislative language from the Department of Energy Office of Science Authorization Act of 2010, HR 4905, offered by Subcommittee Chairman Baird and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL).
 
“The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. It has a diverse portfolio of advanced R&D facilities, including everything from supercomputers to x-ray light sources.  Last year, these facilities were used by more than 22,000 researchers from universities, national laboratories, private industry, and other federal science agencies—enabling our nation’s best and brightest to examine new materials for a wide range of industrial and energy research applications,” said Baird. “If adopted, this bill will provide the first comprehensive authorization of the Office of Science, and will keep it on the funding path set forth in the first COMPETES.”
 
The bill goes program by program to lay out priorities and provides additional direction. As part of this, the bill provides the first authorization for the Energy Frontier Research Centers, which are competitive awards given to multi-institutional collaborations to meet energy research and development needs identified in a series of substantive workshops the Department held over the last several years. 
 
The Committee Print included a title with legislative language from the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2010, HR 4906
 
“This legislation aims to support our energy independence, bolster our competitiveness, and grow our export markets,” said bill author and Full Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “ARPA-E is off to a promising start. This bill makes changes to highlight the importance of ARPA-E looking toward commercial application of the high-risk, high-reward energy technology development it sponsors, and to ensure that ARPA-E will remain the agile and independent program it was intended to be.”  
 
The bill makes additions, including: that the Director should seek opportunities to partner with purchasing and procurement programs of federal agencies to demonstrate energy technologies developed through ARPA-E; and that the director is explicitly authorized to participate in or host events that further the objectives of ARPA-E, like the summit that happened in early March.  The bill also authorizes the Director to carry out a Fellowship program within ARPA-E to act as an internal “think-tank” in setting the strategic vision of ARPA-E and in carrying out the program.    
 
The Committee Print included the legislative language from the Energy Innovation Hubs Authorization Act of 2010, HR 4907
 
"In 1947, AT&T Bell Laboratories fully developed the transistor.  In the 1950s, Lincoln Lab at MIT further developed the radar.  Now,Energy Innovation Hubs can produce the next breakthroughs required to lead the United States into the new clean-energy economy, tapping into the great tradition of American innovation to create thejobs of tomorrow," said bill author Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO). “This bill gives clarity to short-term projects designed to develop innovative technologies to help move the U.S. toward a clean and independent energy economy.”
 
“I am a proud cosponsor of the legislation that helps to create the DOE Energy Innovation Hubs because these centers will accelerate the pace of innovation by bringing together top, multi-disciplinary talent,” said original co-sponsor and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).  “This will allow us to leverage federal dollars to support research at existing institutions paired with robust links to industry so they can create new businesses. America has led the world in the past half-century by being a technology leader. To continue that leadership, we need to support cutting edge research, especially on innovative technologies that help us effectively address our short- and long-term energy needs.”
 
“The research and development that will be done at these Hubs will not only stimulate our economy and help us solve our environmental issues, but it will ensure that the next wave of energy innovations will occur right here in America,” said original co-sponsor and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Vice Chair Paul Tonko (D-NY). “This research and development is crucial if we are going to win the global clean energy race, and will allow us to provide new jobs for America’s working families.”
 
Energy Innovation Hubs are multidisciplinary collaborations that support research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of advanced energy technologies, with each Hub primarily in one centralized, existing location.  Each Hub will have a single technological focus that currently presents a critical barrier to achieving our national energy innovation goals.  Modeled largely after Bell Laboratories and the Bioenergy Research Centers, the Hubs are intended to foster a highly collaborative working environment where practicable under one roof that brings together many fields of expertise and can lead to transformative and revolutionary technological breakthroughs.
 
This would be the first formal authorization of energy innovation Hubs once signed into law. There was funding for three Hubs in FY 2010 and the requested FY 2011 budget adds a fourth Hub.  This authorization aims to give greater clarity and predictability to a program that DOE is currently pursuing.
 
The Committee approved a Manager’s Amendments from Chairman Baird and amendments from Research and Science Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) (two amendments), Research and Science Education Chairman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) (two amendments), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), and Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Vice Chair Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).
 
“The Manager’s Amendment makes changes in Title I of the Committee Print to clarify the intent of the legislation and to incorporate recent recommendations from stakeholders. In addition, this amendment incorporates some good suggestions put forward by the Minority,” said Baird. “Several provisions of the amendment provide a clearer explanation of research items for the Office of Science. This includes research activities in the biological and environmental research program as well as for basic energy sciences, advanced scientific computing, and fusion energy research.”
 
“High performance computing tools are a potentially game-changing technology for U.S. manufacturersOur National Labs have long been a worldwide leader in this area, and my amendment will create an outreach program that helps domestic manufacturers take advantage of this leadership and improve their global competitiveness,” said Research and Science Education Chairman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)“I am also glad we adopted my amendment that will improve infrastructure planning and maintenance at the National Labs.  Adding these oversight provisions will help the Infrastructure Modernization Program ensure that these critical facilities continue to deliver cutting edge discoveries and scientific tools.”
 
“Energy independence is of utmost importance in maintaining our economic and military strength as a nation.  The fusion power research underway at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility may lead the way to unlimited energy for the world,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA). “My amendment requires immediate reporting of the Department of Energy’s plans to implement these important advances.”
 
“It’s time to start encouraging high-tech business growth and economic development through programs like ARPA-E,” said Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Vice Chair Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). “My amendment doubles funding for technology transfer programs – empowering businesses to grow the technology developed in our national laboratories and universities for commercial application.  Creating the jobs of the future requires investment in innovative research and technology, and since our national laboratories and universities are leading in these fields, it only makes sense to team up and help businesses create new jobs through technology transfer.”
 
This is the first of three Subcommittee markups; the Research & Science Education Subcommittee and the Technology & Innovation Subcommittee will also have markups before the Full Committee consideration of the America COMPETES Act. The Committee’s goal is to bring the full package through the House by Memorial Day district work period. 
 
For more information, including on the Committee’s work on COMPETES or ARPA-E, please see our website.
 
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111th Congress