APS News

Senate Bill Provides 5-year Roadmap for Energy Research Funding

By Tawanda W. Johnson, APS Office of Public Affairs

APS has given its support to the newly-introduced Senate bill “Energy Title of the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act) Reauthorization Act of 2015” (S. 1398). Co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), and five other senators, S. 1398 would put energy research on a path of sustained, reliable funding under a bipartisan, partial reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act.

“The Senate bill is notable for making science a priority, even in times of constrained budgets,” said Michael S. Lubell, APS director of public affairs.

The legislation would bolster energy research programs in the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-SC) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E). Moreover, the bill would nearly triple funding for DOE-SC’s Early Career and Distinguished Scientist Awards, which help scientists begin their research careers and be recognized for outstanding work in their fields, respectively.

The Alexander-Coons bill is a partial reauthorization of the 2007 and 2010 versions of the America COMPETES bill, bipartisan legislation that called for the doubling of research funding supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and DOE.

On the other side of the Capitol, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a full COMPETES reauthorization that failed to get any support from scientific organizations. This bill strips funding from research in energy efficiency (including work supported by ARPA-E), as well as in biological, environmental, and geological sciences, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences.

Many scientific groups, including APS, sent letters to U.S. House Science Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), expressing their disapproval of the House bill supported by Smith and opposed by Johnson. It is unclear whether the House and Senate will be able to reconcile the two versions of the COMPETES Act.

Related Information

Gray Arrow APS Supports Alexander-Coons Senate Bill Authorizing Energy Research Funding - Press Release, May 2015
Gray Arrow Letter to House Science Committee on America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 format_pdf - April 2015

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