Energy Research Would See Big Growth Under House Spending Bill

June 18, 2008

Washington — Federal spending on energy research would get a hefty spending boost of 21 percent in the 2009 fiscal year, under a spending bill approved by a House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee this week.

The proposed increase would lift the budget of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science to $4.86-billion, outpacing the 19-percent increase requested by President Bush in February. Both proposals aim to put the office’s budget back on track to double over seven years, as called for by the America Competes Act enacted last year. The bill aims to increase federal spending on fundamental research in the physical sciences to help improve America’s global economic competitiveness.

Congress and the president approved an initial installment toward the doubling goal in the 2007 fiscal year but deadlocked over aggregate spending levels in 2008, agreeing eventually to only a minimal increase for the Office of Science this year.

The House bill for 2009 includes $100-million to establish roughly two dozen new, interdisciplinary research programs, to be called Energy Frontier Research Centers, to study renewable energy and atmospheric-carbon sequestration. —Jeffrey Brainard