Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, my amendment as offered by my colleagues, Representative Bass and Representative Fudge, would simply restore ARPA-E funding to the fiscal year 2011 level of $179.6 million.
ARPA-E was created in 2009 to bring the kind of innovative thinking that is well known at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to the energy sector. That includes a focus on high-risk, high-reward R&D and a quick-moving culture made up of experts who stay for just a few years to ensure that new ideas are continually being brought forward. Unlike some government agencies, its philosophy, much like a tech start-up, is to hire the best technical staff and then hire the managers
and leadership that can get the best out of them.
This reinvention of the way that government does business is something that we should be encouraging. A leaner approach adopted from the private sector, with a more agile leadership and the mandate to cut underperforming research avenues, is exactly what the Department of Energy needs. The American Energy Innovation [Page: H5007]
Council, made up of CEOs and chairmen of some of America's biggest companies, including Bill Gates, Norm Augustine and Jeff Immelt, have
proposed spending $1 billion a year on ARPA-E, seeing it as a vital part of our energy future. This bill provides just $100 million, so they endorsed a version of this amendment in the Appropriations Committee.
I recognize that we have a serious deficit problem as a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, and we need to deal with it. But as we make the difficult choices to do that, I don't believe that as we emerge from a recession that we should cut the innovative research that makes America great and has fueled our economic growth for generations.
Energy is not just an economic issue, of course. It is also a national security issue. Some of our ARPA-E's research may help us cut down on fuel convoys in Afghanistan, and every bit of energy independence protects us from even higher energy prices driven by either instability in the Middle East or skyrocketing demand from China.
More than 50 universities, venture capital firms and professional societies--the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities--have signed a letter in support of increasing ARPA-E funding. They and I hope that we will provide the funds that ARPA-E needs to continue to do the research that will change our world, not today, but tomorrow and for decades to come.
This amendment offsets the increase with a cut to the departmental administration account. As many people have noted, the Department of Energy has a serious management problem, and perhaps cutting this account will send a message that a new approach is needed.
But this invests in our future. Energy is a national security issue, it's an economic imperative, it's a health issue, and it's an environmental issue; and to invest in this kind of cutting-edge research in a reinvention-of-government kind of an agency is exactly the direction we should go. It's a proven approach that has been proven in the Defense Department with DARPA. It can work here in Energy. It's off to a very promising start, developing new battery technologies where we can lead the development
of new batteries for electric vehicles for another generation.
I was very moved by a speech from a CEO of Google about a year ago, and he talked about how the revolution in energy that is just beginning will dwarf the revolution we have just come through in telecommunications because energy is a far bigger sector of our economy. We want to lead that energy revolution. If we do, the benefits to our economic development will be enormous, just as they were in terms of the telecommunications revolution. We don't want to see this leadership go to China, India
or any other nation. But if we're serious about it, we need to invest in cutting-edge research. That's exactly what ARPA-E does.
I urge this Congress not to cut back on the Nation's future, but to support the innovative work being done by ARPA-E.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise to oppose the amendment.
My colleague's amendment would add funding to ARPA-E which receives $100 million in our bill. Our bill, which reduces funding to nearly the 2006 levels--may I repeat, 2006 levels--fulfills our top responsibility of reducing government spending while focusing funding on a small set of top priorities.
In addition to national defense and water infrastructure, our top priorities include research to keep Americans competitive in science, innovation and the development of intellectual property.
ARPA-E is a relatively new program--today we're discussing only its second regular fiscal year appropriation--that offers industry, university and laboratory grants for high-risk energy innovations. ARPA-E is getting positive early reviews for its strong management and ability to execute on its mission to drive innovation and keep American companies competitive.
However, I share many of my colleagues' concerns about this program. ARPA-E must not intervene where capital private markets are already acting, and it must not be redundant with other programs at the Department.
In fact, ARPA-E is still a young program, and it is prudent to provide a lower level of funding while it is still maturing as a program and demonstrating its ability to address congressional concerns, especially when the bill has so many important priorities competing for scarce funding. This prudent approach is especially warranted when the bill has so many important priorities competing.
While I support the goal of this new program, I cannot support any additional funding at this time. Further, this amendment makes an unrealistic cut to the Department's salaries and expenses. We cannot cut departmental oversight by 35 percent and expect the efficient use of taxpayer dollars and more oversight and more management responsibilities. For these reasons and many more, I must oppose the gentleman's amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Page 28, line 13, after the dollar amount insert ``reduced by $820,488,000)''.
Page 62, line 2, after the dollar amount insert ``(increased by $820,488,000)''.
The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
(Mr. BROUN of Georgia asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. BASS of New Hampshire. A minute or two ago, I was in the Cloakroom and I drew up the Web site for ARPA-E, and it says at the top: ``Disruptive and innovative approaches to technology.'' What a wonderful thought, that a government agency can be disruptive and innovative at the same time.
Billions of dollars have been spent on coal, on oil research, on wind and solar, on biomass and conservation and the FreedomCAR. I got involved in the alternative energy business way back in the late seventies when I was a staffer when ERDA was created. We had a real energy crisis in this Nation as we do today. And yet we're really not anywhere nearly as far along this path as we need to be.
Now, someone in the Congress, in the Department of Energy, had the good idea of taking all these ideas for research and creating an entity that would be devoted to giving individuals and inventors, people with good ideas, that little spark that they need to turn those ideas into reality.
The first time they went out for solicitations, they got some 3,500 to 4,000 short, 7-page letters describing ideas. This is a program that leverages a relatively small amount of research dollars into an enormous potential benefit not only to America but to the world.
But within our boundaries here, we have the objective of lessening our dependence on foreign energy, of cleaning up our environment, of creating jobs and new economies for Americans. Given the fact that we have spent literally billions on the research and development in traditional energy resources, all we are asking to do in this amendment is to get the level up to last year, $71 million over the suggested appropriation of $100 million; $71 million. All that to support an agency that, using
their own words, provides a fresh look, a flexible, efficient way to find new ideas to solve very serious problems in America.
I hope that the Congress will support Mr. Schiff's amendment to add this $71 million to keep this program strong, active, and moving forward because I think it has the potential to do more than any other research program in alternative energy can do today. I urge support of this amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.