Democratic News

“Today we are here to discuss innovation in energy technology and the prioritization and integration of the government’s energy activities.  These issues are critically important to the country’s energy future and to the work of the Committee.   Success in the task will mean the development of environmentally responsible energy technologies that will strengthen America’s competitiveness and yield increased national security through decreased energy dependence.  


“The private sector must, of course, play a vital role in innovation and in bringing that innovation to the marketplace to address our energy needs.  But there can be no doubt that the government has, and will continue to have, an essential role to play as well.   


“Reports from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the Department of Energy itself provide significant information on these issues from the country’s leading experts inside and outside the government.  PCAST has provided a report on accelerating the pace of change in energy technologies through an integrated federal energy policy.   


“In addition, as recommended by the PCAST report, the Department of Energy recently completed the first of its Quadrennial Technology Reviews.   This Review is intended to provide us with a framework for understanding, discussing and establishing energy-technology priorities, and for advancing those priorities through the federal budget process.   Through the review of its own programs, the Department of Energy has provided valuable insight into areas in which federal programs are strong, as well as areas in which they suggest that we are underinvested. 


“We also will hear testimony about two bills pending before the Committee that I believe would ensure continued progress in understanding and addressing our nation’s energy research needs.   S. 1703, which Sen. Pryor has introduced, would mandate that a comprehensive review of the energy programs and technologies of the Federal Government be conducted every four years.  I am cosponsoring that bill and look forward to hearing from Sen. Pryor and our witnesses on that legislation.


“The second bill we will be discussing today is S. 1807, the Energy Research and Development Coordination Act of 2011.  This is a bill I have introduced to establish an interagency planning and budget process for all of the Federal agencies involved in energy research, development and demonstration.   


“There can be no doubt about the urgent need for our country to address its energy challenges.  We need to bring together the best minds throughout the Administration, as well as outside the government, to work on the challenges that we face. 


“The bill that I have introduced would create a National Energy Research Coordinating Council, co-chaired by the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Secretary of Energy, that would be independent of any individual agency.  The Council would include the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the heads of any agency with a budget for energy R&D that exceeds $10 million. 


“The Council would produce a government-wide plan to achieve solutions to problems in energy supply, transmission and use, including associated environmental problems, in the short, the medium and the long term.


“The Council also would prepare a consolidated budget proposal and budget guidance to the agencies for each fiscal year to implement its comprehensive plan.   


“I believe S. 1807 will go a long way toward making our Federal energy research efforts as effective and efficient as possible.  I look forward to discussing it with our panel today.  


“In connection with our consideration of these issues we have received a written statement from the American Energy Innovation Council.  This is a group of America’s business executives from some of our largest companies.  We met with Norm Augustine, Bill Gates and others recently.  The Council brings a useful perspective on these issues and on the importance of the legislation we are considering.  They support both bills.  They note that technology innovation – especially in energy – is at the heart of many of the central economic, national security, competitiveness and environmental challenges that we face.  They go on to say that, ‘we, as business leaders, know firsthand how the private sector can be mobilized to attack these problems, but we also know that government must play a vital role in this process.’ 


“I look forward to discussion on these critical issues.  Let me now turn to Sen. Murkowski for her opening remarks.”


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