Starving Clean Energy to Pay the Rich

September 14, 2010 | Devon Swezey,

As the Obama Administration and Republicans are set to do battle over an extension of Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, clean energy innovation is getting the short end of the stick.

According to the New York Times, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is hopping mad about President Obama's plan to let tax cuts expire for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. McConnell's plan, which would extend the tax cuts for the countries wealthiest, would add $700 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, Senate appropriators are considering providing only $200 million for the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) for FY2011, $100 million less than the Administration requested and only half the level appropriated to the agency in the stimulus. Most of that money is going to universities and private businesses for high-risk, high-reward research projects that could form the basis for transformative new industries and drive economic growth.

Energy experts have long argued that investments in R&D programs like ARPA-E should be scaled up to accelerate innovation. In a policy brief released last June, the Breakthrough Institute, Brookings Institution, and Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, called for ARPA-E to increase to around $3 billion in ten years time, "a funding level on par with DARPA budgets and at a scale necessary to truly impact the pace of innovation in the expected multi-trillion dollar clean energy market."

To recap: $200 million for clean energy innovation, $700 billion for wealthy Americans.

Come to think of it, I've seen that $700 billion figure before...

Oh that's right--China is planning to invest $738 billion over 10 years in new clean energy industries to dominate an expected multi-trillion global market and become the clean energy factory for the world.