May 22, 2012
Opening Statement by Chairman Bingaman
“Thank you for coming here today to discuss the report of the American Energy Innovation Council on the role of government in developing innovative energy technologies. The business leaders of the Council have a long record of commercial success building technology companies that compete in the global marketplace and they make a strong case in that report that, with the government as a partner, the United States can continue to lead in the clean energy sector.
“As all the witnesses today point out in their written testimony, there is a global race going on to produce the next generation of energy technologies. Though prices on our electricity bills or at the pump do not always fully reflect it, our current energy system is very expensive. The costs all of us pay in national energy and climate and economic insecurity are unacceptably high, and it’s likely that the fast-growing economies throughout the developing world will be looking to a new generation of technologies that avoid these costs. It’s not only a concern about costs, it’s also a significant commercial opportunity for U.S. entrepreneurs. Fortunately, developing new technologies has historically been a great strength of the United States and, as the witnesses have pointed out, an area where the government has been an effective partner.
“Although I think there has been a broad consensus in Congress in the past in favor of investing in these emerging technologies, we have been sending much more uncertain signals recently. Important support programs have either already expired or appear to be in danger of expiring and, despite repeated calls to address the real problems of the so-called ‘Valley of Death’ in initial technology deployment, instead of expanding on crucial current programs, some in Congress are looking to end the programs that we have in place. Meanwhile, our competitors and potential competitors in the developing world continue to press ahead aggressively to court new energy companies and the talent that will develop the next innovations.
"As these technologies continue to improve and become more cost competitive, we should view this as an opportunity to take a global leadership position. We have some of the best minds in the world working on this problem. It’s very much in in our national interest to show them a clear pathway toward developing and deploying these technologies here and exporting them abroad rather than forcing them to go overseas to find opportunities. I’ve said many times, I believe the only losers in the clean energy technology race will be those that fail to participate, and I hope that the recent paralysis we’ve seen in this place doesn’t lead to miss this opportunity.
“The witnesses testifying today have given a great deal of thought to what leads to success in developing new technologies. I look forward to hearing about their conclusions and what we can do here to put our American entrepreneurs in the best position to succeed in this vital area.”
# # #
For more information, please contact
Bill Wicker at 202.224.5243
or Rosemarie Calabro at 202.224.5039
Follow us on Twitter @SenateEnergy