Bills that would create a new program within the US Department of Energy to be focused on leading the way to reducing dependence on petroleum have been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Advanced Research Projects Energy (ARPA-E) program is modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA), the source for much of the work that led to the Internet.
Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced S. 2196 (Advanced Research Projects Energy Act (ARPA-E) Act) in the Senate last week. Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN) had introduced H.R. 4435 (along with 25 co-sponsors) in December 2005.
The ARPA-E program office, with an authorized funding level of $9 billion for fiscal years 2007 to 2011, would take on high-risk, high pay-off research to move advanced energy technologies into the marketplace.
In the House bill, the agency is chartered explicitly to reduce the amount of energy the United States imports from foreign sources by 20% over the next 10 years.
A report from The National Academy of Sciences recommends the creation of such a new agency to sponsor “creative, out-of-the-box, transformational, generic energy research in those areas where industry by itself cannot or will not undertake such sponsorship, where risks and pay-offs are high.”
Such an organization would be able to accelerate the process by which research is transformed to address energy-related economic, environmental, and security issues to decrease dependence on foreign energy through targeted research and technology development.
The agency would itself perform no research or transitional effort but would fund such work conducted by universities, startups, established firms, and others.