Republican Senators Express Support for Government-Sponsored Energy Research

Posted on May 18, 2017

WASHINGTON, May 18 — U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today led a group of Republican senators in sending a letter to President Trump to urge him to continue to fund the Department of Energy’s research programs.

“The United States does many things well, but one thing we do better than any other country in the world is innovation through research,” the senators wrote. “The Department of Energy’s research programs have made the United States a world leader in science and technology, and will help the United States maintain its brainpower advantage and remain competitive with countries like China and India.”

“The United States cannot overcome scientific obstacles without the combined support of both the private and public sectors. Federally funded research is imperative to ensuring we meet our energy, science, and national security needs for generations to come.” 

The letter was signed by Senators Alexander, Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

The letter can be found here, and text of the full letter is below:

We write today to express our continued support for the Department of Energy’s research programs and urge you to maintain funding for these critical programs.

Government-sponsored research is one of the most important investments our country can make to encourage innovation, unleash our free enterprise system to create good-paying jobs, and ensure American competitiveness in a global economy. 

The United States does many things well, but one thing we do better than any other country in the world is innovation through research.  The Department of Energy’s research programs have made the United States a world leader in science and technology, and will help the United States maintain its brainpower advantage and remain competitive with countries like China and India.

It’s hard to think of an important technological advancement since World War II that has not involved at least some form of government-sponsored research. Take, for example, our latest energy boom: natural gas.  The development of unconventional gas was enabled in part by 3D mapping at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and the Department of Energy’s large-scale demonstration project.  Then the American free enterprise system, and our tradition of private ownership of mineral rights, enabled Americans to capitalize on the basic energy research conducted at our national laboratories.

The United States cannot overcome scientific obstacles without the combined support of both the private and public sectors.  Federally funded research is imperative to ensuring we meet our energy, science, and national security needs for generations to come. 

On May 5, 2017, the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill you signed into law set record funding levels for the Department of Energy’s research programs.  The bill increased funding for the Office of Science, ARPA-E, the Office of Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy Research and Development, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

We cannot lose the technological advantages we have gained through our country’s investment in research and development.  Governing is about setting priorities, and the federal debt is not the result of Congress overspending on science and energy research each year. We urge you to continue to invest in the Department of Energy’s research and development programs in fiscal year 2018.