American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

Federal Energy R&D Challenges of the 21st Century

The President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recently released a report entitled Federal Energy R&D Challenges of the 21st Century. The report s tates that energy R&D funding is not commensurate with the challenges facing the nation and contains recommendations for future funding levels through 2003 to address this issue. The report repeatedly stresses the need to respond to the risk of global cl imate change by reducing carbon emissions through improved fossil technology and alternative fuels. Energy efficiency would receive the largest increase, with money going to equipment and material research, and the Next Generation Vehicle project. Renew able energy research would receive the next largest increase because of its diverse portfolio and its environmental benefits. The report sets a goal of cutting the cost of photovoltaics and wind in half by 2005 and making ethanol competitive by 2010-2015. It also includes support for research into biomass sources of energy with the pulp and paper industry.

The report proposes that fossil energy research stay constant when accounting for inflation, as some projects -- such as clean coal -- would be terminated and given to industry, and others -- such as those included in "Vision 21"-- are increased. Fundin g for long-term gas research would increase as would funds for international collaboration. Funding for marginal oil and gas resources would increase and support exists for a strong carbon sequestration initiative. Additional funding is included to supp ort air pollution research and development and explore potential technology to develop methyl hydrates. The report specifically recommends continued support of AGI's National Geoscience Data Repository System project.

Fusion research would increase until it reaches a constant 1995 level with an emphasis on basic science and plasma confinement. Fission research would increase slightly to give researchers an opportunity to determine if they can remedy previous problems.

The report is available from the PCAST home page or by calling 202-456-6100 or faxing 202-456-6026.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at

Contributed by Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs
Last updated January 5, 1998

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