Alternative Energy Funding Fizzles in U.S.

Congress ends without funding research programs, as the United States falls behind in alternative technologies.

Published: 04-Jan-2007

Despite the hype and numerous promises that began 2006, including President Bush's declared plans to curb the United States' addiction to oil, the 109th Congress ended the year without allocating funding for proposed increases in research spending for alternative energy.

Although Bush proposed a fiscal-year 2007 budget that would have increased funding for some renewable-energy resources, including solar and biomass, as well as for research into hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, the budget was not passed. Instead, Congress passed a stop-gap continuing resolution that will keep the budget at 2006 levels, which, because of inflation, amounts to a cut in funding, and it specifically decreases funding in some cases. For now, the Department of Energy is suspending funding for new projects, a spokesperson says. According to Kei Koizumi, director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, other research agencies are cutting funding for ongoing projects by 20 percent because of budget uncertainty. This makes it difficult for labs to hire the researchers or buy the equipment necessary to continue work.

The new Congress, which convenes today, is expected to extend the stop-gap measure through the rest of the year in order to focus efforts on the president's fiscal-year 2008 budget, which will be announced in February.

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