Enhanced Energy Funds Encouraging
Many members of Congress deserve failing grades for failing to check the worst instincts and policies of the Trump administration. But in one crucial area, Congress deserves credit for quietly countering the president’s loud rhetoric. President Trump often has condemned publicly funded research projects, even though those projects — conducted by agencies ranging from NASA through the National Institutes of Health — often produce breakthroughs that ripple through the private sector, saving lives and driving the economy. To its credit, a bipartisan majority of Congress seems to recognize that role. So, when the administration proposed eviscerating the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy with a two-thirds reduction in its budget, Congress increased the budget to more than $2.3 billion. That office primarily is responsible for research on alternative energy, including wind and solar. Likewise, when the administration proposed eliminating the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which funds theoretical energy research, Congress increased its budget to a record $366 million. Even Energy Secretary Rick Perry testified at a legislative hearing in March that ARPA-E is “a good return on investment for the American taxpayers’ dollars.” More so than the actual funding, the appropriations demonstrate Congress’ understanding that federal government’s role in groundbreaking research is valid, fundamental and irreplaceable. That view is necessary to maintain the United States’ stature as the global leader in scientific research and implementation.