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Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) : background, status, and selected issues for Congress

Author: Deborah D Stine; Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service.
Publisher: [Washington, D.C.] : Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, [2008]
Series: CRS report for Congress, RL34497.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : National government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
In August 2007, Congress authorized the establishment of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69). Modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-E would support transformational energy technology research projects with the goal of enhancing the nation's economic and energy security.  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Government publication, National government publication, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Deborah D Stine; Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service.
OCLC Number: 229376471
Notes: Title from title screen (viewed May 20, 2008).
"May 20, 2008."
Description: [16] p. : digital, PDF file.
Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web and PDF reader.
Series Title: CRS report for Congress, RL34497.
Responsibility: Deborah D. Stine.

Abstract:

In August 2007, Congress authorized the establishment of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69). Modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-E would support transformational energy technology research projects with the goal of enhancing the nation's economic and energy security. Proponents of ARPA-E contend that additional science and technology would help respond to the nation's need for clean, affordable, and reliable energy. Opponents question whether ARPA-E is necessary to develop new technologies, when existing energy technologies are not fully utilized due to insufficient policies to encourage their implementation. ARPA-E proponents counter that ARPA-E is needed to catalyze the energy marketplace by accelerating research that will bridge the gap between basic research and industrial product development. The Bush Administration questions whether the DARPA model can be used for the energy sector and is concerned that it might redirect funds away from current DOE research activities, particularly the DOE Office of Science. Instead, the President's FY2009 budget requests funding for six new technology transfer collaborations. ARPA-E proponents doubt that DOE can achieve ARPA-E's goals with its existing structure and personnel, as opposed to the ARPA-E's innovative R & D management design. Congress authorized $300 million for ARPA-E in FY2008 and "such sums as are necessary" for FY2009 and FY2010. Congress subsequently appropriated no funds for FY2008. The Administration requested no funds for ARPA-E in FY2009. Congress is currently debating whether to fund ARPA-E in FY2009, and if so, the amount that should be appropriated. Budget constraints may present Congress with a dilemma: which is more important, existing DOE energy R & D activities, such as the Office of Science, proposed DOE activities such as the technology transfer collaborations and Energy Frontier Research Centers, or ARPA-E? An alternative is to incorporate some ARPA-E or another research management model, such as the CIA's In-Q-Tel venture capital activity, into existing DOE programs. Some have proposed funding ARPA-E through a mechanism that differs from the usual single-year appropriations process to enhance its ability to conduct risky research without being subject to the annual appropriations cycle, political and financial pressures, and resource fluctuations that might stifle innovation. One option is for Congress to provide a multi-year advance appropriation. Another is for Congress to identify a revenue source. For example, some have suggested that ARPA-E could be funded by a repeal of oil industry tax and other incentives (to offset ARPA-E's cost); gasoline tax; oil company profit tax; a trust fund set up from federal oil and gas royalties, or from a fund derived under a climate change cap and trade program. Based on past experience, however, each of these proposals would face challenges in Congress.

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