How the Government Is Lowballing Investments in Clean Energy

The government could shut down over $1.6 billion in cuts to clean energy, part of a broader reluctance to fund clean energy.

The federal government could shut down over $1.6 billion in cuts to clean-energy programs. Most of the proposed cuts come from a fuel efficiency program, but House Republicans also targeted the loan program that backed Solyndra, the dysfunction solar company that’s cast dispersion over the rest of the industry. Congress didn’t need Solyndra to give it an excuse to slash funding for the clean-energy industry, though. This latest hit only underlines the government’s lack of enthusiasm for any energy project involving the words “clean” or “renewable."

Take, for example, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Inspired by the innovation-driving, internet-creating Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, ARPA-E invests in game-changing energy technology, like electric-vehicle batteries that could lower the cost of driving from St. Louis to Chicago to less than $5. Independent organizations, both liberal and conservative, have recommended the agency receive funding on the order of $1 billion. Yet the Obama administration's funding proposals have come in far lower than that, and Congress has low-balled the agency further. In March, Arun Majumdar, who heads ARPA-E, requested $650 million for the 2012 fiscal year. The House's version of the energy appropriations bill allocated $180 million to the organization.

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