HKS Authors

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James R. Schlesinger Professor of the Practice of Energy, National Security, and Foreign Policy


In his 2008 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush emphasized the importance of empowering American scientists and engineers to “pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow.” 1 He called on the government to: fund improvements in fossil fuel technologies; increase the use of renewable and nuclear power ; invest in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power future vehicles; and start an international clean technology fund to ease the transition of developing countries to low-carbon technologies. The fiscal year 2009 (FY09) budget request for the Department of Energy (DOE), however, does not reflect all of these priorities. The President’s request calls for an energy RD&D budget of $3.2 billion, only a fraction of the energy RD&D budgets of the 1970s, and well below the level suggested by current en ergy technology challenges and opportunities (see Figure 1 below). The request would ramp up nuclear fission RD&D funding by 46% over the FY08 appropriation, to $689.1 million, and would increase fossil energy RD&D by 10%, to $743.7 million (see Table 1 at end of document). But it would also cut renewable energy R&D funding by 23%, to $562.5 million, and reduce energy efficiency funding by 28%, to $595.1 million (when deployment programs such as weatherization are included). In addition, the FY09 request would cut electric transmission and distribution (ET&D) funding by 15% from FY08. Given that improved and flexible transmission and distribution systems are essential to accommodate an increased use of renewable energy sources and further reduce emissions, 2 a decline of investment in ET&D RD&D is also inconsistent with the policy aim of creating a U.S. future with more renewable energy and energy efficient systems.


Anadon, Laura Diaz, Kelly Sims Gallagher, and Matthew Bunn. "DOE FY09 Budget Request for Energy Research, Development & Demonstration – Commentary." Energy Technology Innovation Policy, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, June 2008.