On The New York Times’ Science blog, Andrew Revkin tells George Will that it’s time to stand up and defend funding for the sciences. Conservative Republican George Will has been one of the few outspoken Republican defenders of funding for the sciences.
The reason Revkin is so concerned is that the 2014 Energy-Water Appropriations Bill that just passed the House is very bad news for renewable energy. The worst news for those with dreams of financing startups in next generation battery technology or advanced solar is that the “Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which supports the development and commercialization of new energy technologies, would receive $50 million, $215 million — or 81 percent — less than what was enacted in fiscal 2013.” Additionally regulation of incandescent bulbs would be dropped, a problem for the slowly growing LED industry.
ARPA-E really is one of the only repositories of cash for those in the sciences with big dreams of finding fossil fuel replacements that are price competitive. These projects have an uphill battle finding financing in the private sector because they are so ambitious and so high risk.
The reality is that if we want a new energy economy, we have to spend money supporting early stage energy research. The White House has threatened to veto the bill and it looks like a Senate version of the bill would require considerable reconciliation between versions.