There’s growing evidence that the political battle over the budget is threatening efforts to ramp up America’s capacity to push the frontiers of energy sciences and stimulate innovation. Click here for relevant background on Dot Earth.
Some useful background has been assembled by Sara Mansur of The Breakthrough Institute (this via Jesse Jenkins):
Budget Battle, Part I: President Obama’s Budget Would Invest in Energy Innovation http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2011/02/president_obamas_budget_would.shtml
Budget Battle, Part II: House GOP Budget Proposal Slashes Energy Innovation Investments http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2011/02/house_gops_proposed_continuing.shtml
Budget Battle, Part III: Senate Democrats’ Aim to Invest in Clean Energy, Innovation, Infrastructure http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2011/02/senate_democrats_agenda_aims_t.shtml
While we know that limited and direct public investments in technology innovation have been part of America’s long, bipartisan history of economic leadership (see our “Where Good Technologies Come From" and "Post-Partisan Power" reports), the current budget fight is unfortunately shaping up to split parties over whether or not to make sweeping cuts across all agencies and programs, including those that play the most central role in supporting American innovation and entrepreneurialism, or to make more targeted cuts to programs that amount to wasteful spending while preserving or even increasing funding for key innovation-related programs. We’ll see where Senate Republicans come down in this, but the House GOP leadership has clearly staked their position with HR1. It’s a position that belies the party’s long history of support for innovation and technology, and hopefully it’s one that changes as this debate progresses. (Voices like David Brooks, George Will, Jim Dipeso, and Steve Hayward offer a different, wiser, Conservative vision, although one that clearly hasn’t sunk in yet with the House GOP leadership).
It’s an important fight, one that our nation’s economic and energy futures may hinge on. Sara’s series gets into the gory details.
(I also have a longer look at the broader energy and climate implications of the House-passed budget resolution at the Energy Collective here: http://bit.ly/HR1_Energy_Climate)