Posted on March 25, 2019
Double Energy Research Funding
Washington, D.C., March 25, 2019 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today proposed “one Republican’s response to climate change: a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy.” His plan would double federal funding for energy research and focus on Ten Grand Challenges for the next five years to create new sources of cheap, clean energy to “raise family incomes at home, strengthen our economy and show the rest of the world how to reduce carbon emissions -- because the rest of the world is where the carbon emissions problem has to be solved.”
In a week when the Senate is expected to vote on a Democrat proposal to address climate change, the senator said, “I believe the Democrat cure for climate change is so far out in left field that not many are going to take it seriously. The Democrats’ Green New Deal is basically an assault on cars, cows and combustion. And with nuclear power available, its strategy for fighting climate change with windmills makes as much sense as going to war in sailboats.
“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 raise family incomes at home, strengthen our economy and show the rest of the world how to reduce carbon emissions – because the rest of the world is where the carbon emissions problem has to be solved.”
Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate energy appropriations subcommittee, made his remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon.
“When it comes to climate change, China, India and developing countries are the problem; American innovation is the answer. According to the Global Carbon Project, over the last 13 years, the United States has reduced production of greenhouse gases more than any major country. But over the last five years, China’s carbon emissions have risen. The U.S. reduction is largely thanks to conservation and switching from coal to natural gas to produce electricity. …If we want to do something about climate change, we should use American research and technology to provide the rest of the world with tools to create low cost energy that emits fewer greenhouse gases.”
The senator continued, “The purpose of the original Manhattan Project during World War II was to find a way to split the atom and build a bomb before Germany could. The New York Times described this as the ‘most concentrated intellectual effort in history.’ Instead of ending a war, the goal of this New Manhattan Project will be to minimize the disruption on our lives and economies caused by climate change, to clean the air and to raise family incomes -- both in our country and in the rest of the world by creating large amounts of clean, inexpensive energy.
“Can a New Manhattan Project accomplish such bold breakthroughs in just five years? Well, just look at what has happened in the United States during the last five years: carbon emissions from energy consumption are down by 230 million metric tons; the number of electric vehicles doubled and so has the median driving range per charge; the utility scale cost of solar power has been nearly cut in half; the number of homes rose four percent, but household energy usage decreased by 10 percent; we lost and then reclaimed the number one spot in supercomputing; the cost of natural gas was cut in half, and the percent of electricity provided by natural gas increased from 27 percent to 35 percent — all in the last five years.”
The senator said he believes that climate change is real and that human emissions are a major cause of climate change, but that “You don’t have to believe humans cause climate change to believe in the New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy, and you don’t have to be a Republican.” He said that many of the plan’s Ten Grand Challenges have also been proposed by the National Academies of Science and the National Institute of Engineering, and have been endorsed by leaders of both political parties.