House Adopts Schiff, Bass, Fudge Amendment to Advance Cutting-Edge Energy Research

Washington, DC –Today, on a razor thin 214 to 213 vote, the House approved an amendment offered by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH), and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) in the FY2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill to restore funding for cutting-edge research through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The amendment, which will provide a boost to the revolutionary arm of DOE started in 2009 to pursue high-risk, high-reward research on energy, passed on a bipartisan vote.

The amendment was supported by Caltech, MIT, the University of California and more than 50 leading universities, as well as the CEO's of many of America's leading companies. As a result of its adoption, the ARPA-E will not be cut by 82%, which would have provided scarce resources to replace scientists leaving at the end of their term and hamstringing the agency.

“With unrest in the Middle East and increasing demand for energy in China, we need all of the revolutionary energy ideas we can get, which is why this program is so vital to our economic future and national security,” Rep. Schiff said. “Investing in this program will bring in some of the brightest people in the country for two or three years to help pioneer America's energy innovation and future."

“A diverse and sustainable energy portfolio is vital to ensuring our nation’s energy security and lessening our dependence on foreign sources of oil, in addition to helping the private sector create jobs,” Rep. Bass said.  “Research programs like ARPA-E that help to cultivate advanced technology are important in producing significant energy savings and growing our economy, both worthy goals as our economy begins to recover.”

Other DOE energy research programs focus on maturing technologies that can be deployed soon, and don’t have the vital collaborations with industry and academia that are present at ARPA-E. ARPA-E is modeled after the highly successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has produced famously successful inventions for the Department of Defense, and the nation, perhaps most notably the Internet. A key element of both agencies is that managers are limited to fixed terms, so that new blood continuously revitalizes the research portfolio.