Senator Brown, Leading Energy Think Tanks Push for More Research Investment and New National Institu
September 16, 2009
Both speaking to the public today at separate events, President Barack Obama and Energy Secretary Stephen Chu highlighted the administration's plans to make unprecedented investments in clean energy innovation.
Speaking at the White House, President Obama continued to advance his post-environmental, innovation and investment-oriented energy agenda.
After a spot-on introduction from articulate energy innovation advocate and MIT President Susan Hockfield (see related post), President Obama highlighted the unprecedented energy innovation investments in the stimulus bill and reiterated his pledge to invest $15 billion annually in the development of new, clean and efficient energy technologies.
Obama also promised a ten-year commitment to make the federal Research and Experimentation Tax Credit permanent in order to encourage greater private sector investment in the kind of innovation that truly drives long-term economic growth.
Obama's speech today though was less notable for the policy announcements, which outside of the pledge to make the federal R&D tax credit more reliable were hardly news. What was more remarkable was that the President appears to be refining and committing to a truly post-environmental energy agenda, one focused on energy innovation and spurred by public investments to support our nation's best and brightest minds.
Obama has not only surrounded himself with advisers who truly get the energy innovation challenge -- both formal advisers like Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and his newly-confirmed chief science adviser, John Holdren, as well as informal advisers like MIT President Susan Hockfield and UC Berkeley energy expert Dan Kammen -- but he has repeatedly decided to put them front and center, as he did today, giving them the spotlight as chief advocates of the Administration's clean energy agenda.
Furthermore, the President couches his clean energy plans in arguments about economic recovery, global competitiveness and energy security with increasing skill.
Today, he even issued a Sputnik-Moment-like call for the nation's best and brightest innovators to tackle our energy challenges:
"nnovators like you are creating the jobs that will foster our recovery -- and creating the technologies that will power our long-term prosperity.
So I thank you for your work. It's said that necessity is the mother of invention. At this moment of necessity, we need you. We need some inventiveness. Your country needs you to create new jobs and lead new industries. Your country needs you to mount a historic effort to end once and for all our dependence on foreign oil.
And in this difficult endeavor -- in this pursuit on which I believe our future depends -- your country will support you. Your President will support you."
After visiting various research buildings, he gave a pep talk on the energy revolution he said was vital if the United States and the world are to avoid conflicts over limited supplies of oil and eventual disruptive impacts from human-caused global warming.
Over and over, in examples from the first transcontinental telephone call to the transistor to methods for synthesizing ammonia (and thus nitrogen fertilizer), Dr. Chu pointed out how great technological advances benefiting society grew out of fundamental breakthroughs in basic science.
Now, [Dr. Chu] said, the country's challenge is to grow a generation of energy innovators, a challenge made harder because innovation has never been much of a priority within the energy industry.