A septet of senators from both sides of the aisle, led by Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE), have introduced legislation to reauthorize energy programs included in the America Competes Act.
The bill would authorize a 4% increase in funding each year for basic energy research, reauthorize for five years the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science and DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and put DOE on a path toward doubling the roughly $5 billion it spends on basic energy research.
The legislation would also eliminate six DOE programs that were never fully implemented, reform five other DOE programs, and create DOE-funded competitive grant programs to attract and keep the country's most talented scientists.
"If we want to maintain our brainpower advantage and create an abundance of clean, cheap, reliable energy to compete in our 21st Century economy, we need to fuel innovation in our free enterprise system," Alexander said. "Governing is about setting priorities, and this legislation will put us on a path to double basic energy research -- one of the best ways to keep good-paying jobs from going overseas -- while streamlining basic energy research programs at the U.S. Department of Energy."
The legislation is set to be considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to its sponsors. Co-sponsors are committee chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
Originally adopted in 2007, the America Competes Act set out to double the federal government's investment in basic research in order to maintain U.S. competitiveness in science and technology. Congress reauthorized the act in 2010.