House Holds Hearing on FY 2021 ARPA-E Appropriations

Mar 23, 2020

by ASME.org

Earlier this month, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies, held a hearing to examine the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Request, which proposes eliminating the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) program. Office of Science Director Chris Fall and ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski testified before the Subcommittee. Subcommittee Chair Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Ranking Member Mike Simpson (R-ID) opened the hearing, agreeing that previous investments in energy research have provided great benefits to the nation, and that Congress will very likely make significant changes to the President’s budget request regarding the ARPA-E program.

In her opening remarks, Subcommittee Chair Marcy Kaptur stated, “the proposed elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) program is an absolute non-starter. Since its inception, ARPA-E has supported breakthrough technologies, such as next-generation batteries, electric aviation, and improving components of solar panels. ARPA-E fills the gaps between basic and applied research where the private sector will not take those financial risks. This is vital to innovation. Our nation should be investing more in science and engineering, not less.”

ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski was put in a difficult spot testifying before the Subcommittee. As a member of the Trump Administration, it is his duty to defend the President’s budget request. However, as the Director of ARPA-E, it is difficult to defend a budget request that abolishes the program you are leading. He quickly addressed the President’s budget request in his statement, informing the Subcommittee that the budget request still would allocate $21.25 million for existing ARPA-E projects to be carried out to completion, but does not provide any funding for new projects. After quickly addressing the technicalities of the request, Director Genatowski went on to tout the success of the program.

To view a full recording of the hearing, please visit: https://appropriations.house.gov/events/hearings/department-of-energy-fy2021-budget-request-for-advanced-research-projects-agency.

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