Alexander: Congress Should Double Funding for Energy Research To Put United States on Path Toward Cleaner, Cheaper Energy

Posted on March 27, 2019

“Earlier this week, I proposed a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy, a five year project with ten grand challenges… Meeting these Grand Challenges would create breakthroughs in advanced nuclear reactors, natural gas, carbon capture, better batteries, greener buildings, electric vehicles, cheaper solar and  fusion. To provide the tools to create these breakthroughs, the federal government should double its funding for energy research and keep the United States number one in the world in advanced computing.”

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2019 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said, “Congress should continue to increase funding for the Department of Energy’s research and development programs,” during a hearing on the president’s fiscal year 2020 budget request for the United States Department of Energy (DOE). Energy Secretary Rick Perry was the witness at today’s hearing.

“Earlier this week, I proposed a ‘New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy,’ a five year project with Ten Grand Challenges that will use American research and technology to put our country and the world firmly on a path toward cleaner, cheaper energy,” Alexander said. “Meeting these Grand Challenges would create breakthroughs in advanced nuclear reactors, natural gas, carbon capture, better batteries, greener buildings, electric vehicles, cheaper solar and fusion. To provide the tools to create these breakthroughs, the federal government should double its funding for energy research and keep the United States number one in the world in advanced computing. This strategy takes advantage of the United States’ secret weapon, our extraordinary capacity for basic research, especially at our 17 national laboratories. It will strengthen our economy and raise our family incomes.”

Alexander continued: “I appreciate Secretary Perry being here today in his third appearance before this subcommittee. As we review the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2020 budget request today and work on drafting the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, I will be keeping these Ten Grand Challenges in mind.”

See Chairman Alexander’s Ten Grand Challenges:

  • Advanced Nuclear
  • Natural Gas
  • Carbon Capture
  • Better Batteries
  • Greener Buildings
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Cheaper Solar
  • Fusion
  • Advanced Computing
  • Double Energy Research Funding

At today’s hearing, Alexander noted that the subcommittee worked in a bipartisan way on the fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, which was signed into law before the start of the fiscal year -- the first time that had happened since 2000. “We provided $6.585 billion for the department’s Office of Science, the fourth consecutive year of record level funding, which supports basic science and energy research at our 17 national laboratories and is the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences,” Alexander said. “We also provided $366 million for ARPA-E, to continue the important research and development investments into high-impact energy technologies – another record funding level in a regular appropriations bill. We also provided $1.3 billion for the department’s Office of Nuclear Energy, which is responsible for research and development of advanced reactors and small modular reactors, and $15.2 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, including record funding levels for our Weapons Program and Naval Reactors.”

The senator continued, “We are holding today’s hearing to give Secretary Perry an opportunity to discuss the department’s priorities, so Senator Feinstein – this subcommittee’s ranking member -- and I can make informed decisions as we begin to write the fiscal year 2020 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. Governing is about setting priorities, and we always have to make some hard decisions to ensure the highest priorities are funded.” 

Alexander discussed prioritizing federal support for science and energy research; maintaining a safe and effective nuclear weapons stockpile; demonstrating that we can build safe, affordable advanced reactors; the need to keep America first in supercomputing; and solving the nuclear waste stalemate. Click here for Alexander’s full prepared remarks, which highlight these priorities.

Alexander is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which oversees the Department of Energy—a federal agency with three critical missions: nuclear security, science and energy, and environmental management.

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