Monday, June 29, 2009

Letter to Obama & Congress: $30 billion Annually Needed for Energy Technology


By Teryn Norris, originally posted at the Breakthrough Institute

Leading energy experts from across the country sent a letter to President Obama and members of Congress on Thursday calling for a massive increase in clean energy investments included in the American Clean Energy & Security Act.

"We express our profound concern about the abysmal funding for energy technology innovation in the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act," the energy experts wrote. "As it stands, this Act ignores President Obama's consistent call for investing $150 billion over ten years in energy research and development."

Analysis by the Breakthrough Institute has shown that ACES invests only one-fifteenth of what President Obama has consistently promised for energy R&D. As Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus wrote today, "While the White House web site still promises $15 billion annually for clean energy R&D alone, the House climate legislation would invest just $800 million to 1.4 billion in R&D."

The energy experts called for a clean energy RD&D budget of $20-30 billion annually. "Moreover, we believe that at least $30 billion will be needed annually to research, develop, and demonstrate low- and no-carbon energy technologies, with the aim of achieving breakthroughs that can make them much cheaper."

This letter echoes the recommendations of the Brookings Institution, International Energy Agency, Apollo Alliance, Breakthrough Institute, and others. In late 2007, 30 energy experts including several Nobel Laureates wrote a letter to Congress calling for $30 billion of annual investments in clean energy RD&D.

The full letter is here:

Letter to President Obama and Congress:
On the Need for $30 billion Annually for Energy Technology Innovation


June 25th, 2009

Dear President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and Members of Congress,

We express our profound concern about the abysmal funding for energy technology innovation in the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act.

As it stands, this Act ignores President Obama's consistent call for investing $150 billion over ten years in energy research and development.

Moreover, we believe that at least $30 billion will be needed annually to research, develop, and demonstrate low- and no-carbon energy technologies, with the aim of achieving breakthroughs that can make them much cheaper.

Large public investments in technology innovation have been critical for establishing America's leadership in the aerospace, computer, Internet, and pharmaceutical industries -- and they will be critical to establishing America's leadership in clean energy.

Regulations and a price on carbon dioxide -- especially the low price that the Waxman-Markey's ACES bill would establish -- will not be enough to achieve the necessary technological breakthroughs. With a carbon dioxide price of between $10 and $15 per ton, the ACES bill would allocate just $500-$750 million for clean energy research and development (with additional funds directed to commercialization and deployment). In contrast, the bill would allocate $28-$42 billion annually for fossil fuel-reliant energy companies, utilities, and heavy industries.

On May 27, 2009, President Obama spoke with decisiveness and vision:

"We have a choice. We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy." He continued, "we can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they have already recognized as the great opportunity of our time: the nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy. That's the nation I want America to be."

We are writing to ask you to help realize President Obama's vision for the role of clean energy in a prosperous, safe, and independent America. We urge you to support energy innovation, and work to allocate at least $30 billion per year to research, develop and demonstrate clean energy technologies.
We look forward to hearing your response.

Sincerely,

Martin Hoffert
Physics Professor Emeritus, NYU
Senior Fellow, Breakthrough Institute

Ken Caldeira
Carnegie Institution / Stanford University

Eric Hoffert
Versatility, Inc.

Stephen E. Schwartz
Brookhaven National Laboratory

Bill Fulkerson, Senior Fellow
Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment
University of Tennessee

William F. Dempster
Institute of Ecotechnics
Santa Fe, NM

Scott Barrett
Columbia University

Michael Schlessinger
University of Illinois

Greg H. Rau
University of California, Santa Cruz

John Turner,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Geoffrey Landis

Jane Long
Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

Michael MacCracken
Climate Institute
Washington, DC

Mark Jacobson
Stanford University

John Katzenberger
Aspen Global Change Initiative

Tom Wigley
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

William Dempster

Michael Mann
Director, Earth System Science Center (ESSC)
Pennsylvannia State University

T. Homer-Dixon
Center for International Governance Innovation
University of Waterloo

David Keith
University of Calgary

Darel Preble
President, Space Solar Power Institute

*Institutions listed for identification purposes only

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