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APS member Donald D. Koetke, senior research professor of physics at Valparaiso University in Indiana, wrote a letter to the editor praising Indiana Congressman Pete Visclosky's support of the Fiscal Year 2008 Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill, which funds the DOE Office of Science. The letter was published in the Merrillville, Indiana, Post-Tribune newspaper.
June 20, 2007
VU Professor Lauds Visclosky Energy Bill
I am writing to praise U.S. Rep. Peter J. Visclosky, D-Merrillville, for his support of the Department of Energy Office of Science in the Fiscal Year 2008 Energy & Water Appropriations bill.
In its June 10 editorial, the Post-Tribune properly gives Visclosky credit for making the "right start" on tackling the growing problem of global warming. But he also deserves credit for tackling the related issues of high gas prices and the country's heavy reliance on foreign oil.
Under Visclosky's guidance, the bill provides increased funding for energy technologies and alternative fuels, and, just as importantly, a major boost for the transformational science research needed to achieve energy security for the United States.
Visclosky's bill addresses the major impediments that scientists must overcome in developing key energy technologies == such as biofuels, fuel cells and solar cells == by providing significant increases for basic research funding. Such long-term, high-risk research, most of which our nation carries out at universities and national laboratories, is critical for our success in reducing carbon emissions and making our nation less dependent on foreign energy.
Cellulosic ethanol, an environmentally friendly biofuel, for example, is widely considered the next step up from corn-based ethanol. But major scientific breakthroughs are needed to bring it to fruition. If scientists succeed, however, there will be myriad agricultural products that Indiana could produce to make cellulosic ethanol.
Indiana motorists should greet this bill with great enthusiasm because it will mean the development of alternative fuels that are better for the environment and their pocketbooks. Indiana farmers should applaud this bill because it opens the door to a better agricultural economy.
Basic research was responsible for many technological advances, including high-speed computing, the Internet, magnetic resonance imaging and others.
The same will happen with energy technologies, if we support Visclosky's bill.
Donald D. Koetke, senior research professor of physics, Valparaiso University
See the bill's summary and status file on the Library of Congress Web site.