Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Secretary Moniz Testifies On DOE Science & Technology Priorities

Jun 18: The House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Chaired by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) held a hearing to review the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Science & Technology Priorities. DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz was the only witness. In an opening statement, Rep. Smith said, "To many, the Department of Energy (DOE) is typically not regarded as a "science agency." But from its origins with the Manhattan Project to its current programs and mission, science has always served as DOE's foundation. Approximately $8.5 billion, or one-third of the Department's budget, is focused on civilian science and technology activities that fall under this Committee's jurisdiction. . .
    "Dr. Moniz's tenure begins at an extraordinary time in our nation's energy history. We are now just a few years into an energy revolution driven by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that has enabled dramatic increases in oil and natural gas production. The notion of true American energy independence -- long dismissed as unrealistic -- is now attainable, perhaps even by the end of this decade. . . The shale boom has been accompanied by important energy policy debates. These include whether the Federal government should regulate fracking, whether the Keystone XL Pipeline should be built and how best to handle liquefied natural gas exports. . ."
    Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said, "I am pleased with the Department's budget request this year. If approved, the Office of Science, ARPA-E, the Office of Electricity, and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would all receive a much-needed boost to advance the development of clean energy technologies that will be vital to our national security, our economy, and our environment in the decades to come. It is worth reminding my colleagues here today that we have seen how government research can pay off when it comes to energy development. DOE-supported research was key to the development of high-efficiency gas turbines for coal plants, nuclear reactors developed at federal labs, and the directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing practices that have led to the shale gas boom of today. But we should remember that those achievements required decades of federal investment, the overwhelming majority of which was focused on fossil and nuclear energy. I continue to support research to make today's technologies cleaner and more efficient, but I believe that it is time to level the playing field and introduce real competition to the markets. That is where the priorities set by this budget request come into play."
     Secretary Moniz said in part, "The mission of the Department of Energy could not be more urgent or important. From our efforts to find affordable and clean sources of energy, to ensuring the security of our nuclear stockpile, to cleaning up the legacy of the Cold War -- our work, which includes advancing the science that underpins these missions, is essential to our prosperity, environment, and security. Today, I will lay out my vision for how the Department can be best positioned to address these challenges. . . the President advocates an all-of-the-above energy strategy and I am very much in tune with this. . .
    "Since President Obama took office, the global energy landscape has undergone a profound change. In the United States, oil and gas production has increased each year, while oil imports have fallen to a 20 year low. At the same time, renewable electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources has doubled; and carbon emissions have fallen to the lowest level in the U.S. in nearly two decades. These changes have important implications for our economy, environment, and national security. Already we are seeing the effects of increased U.S. oil and natural gas production on global energy markets. . .
    "The President's Fiscal Year 2014 budget also requests continued support for the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), to support high-impact energy related research projects with the potential to transform the energy sector. ARPA-E has invested in roughly 285 high-risk, high-reward research projects that, if successful, could create the foundation for entirely new industries. Seventeen of these projects, which received an initial investment from ARPA-E of approximately $70 million in total, have attracted
over $450 million in publicly-announced private sector follow-on funding. ARPA-E funded companies and research teams have produced a battery that doubled the energy density of any previous design, successfully engineered microbes that use carbon dioxide and hydrogen to make fuel for cars, and developed a one megawatt silicon carbide transistor the size of a fingernail. . .
    "The risks of global climate change threaten the health, security, and prosperity of future generations. DOE must continue to support a robust R&D portfolio of low-carbon options and key enablers: efficiency, renewables, nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, energy storage, and smart and resilient grids. The President's FY 2014 Budget requests resources to invest in programs that support research, development, and deployment of the energy technologies of the future that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy security. These investments will help us double American energy productivity by 2030, double renewable electricity generation again by 2020, cut net oil imports in half by the end of the decade, save consumers and businesses money by reducing energy use, and support groundbreaking research and innovation to safely and responsibly leverage every domestic source of energy. . ."
    In lengthy testimony he addressed various DOE mission areas including: Energy Technology and Policy; Science; Nuclear Security; Environmental Remediation; Management and Performance; and concluded that DOE, "has significant responsibilities that bear on America's economic, energy, environmental and nuclear security future. I have appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with members of this Committee and with other members of Congress both during my previous tenure at DOE and in the years since. I am committed to working with the Congress in a search for the solutions to the country's energy and nuclear security challenges. As President Obama has said, 'Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. After years of talking about it, we're finally poised to control our own energy future.' The investments included in the Administration's Energy Department budget request are vital to ensuring America's energy security and securing America's place as the world leader in the clean energy economy."
    Access the Republican website for the hearing with links to testimony and video (click here). Access the Democratic website for the hearing with links to testimony and video (click here). [#Energy]
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