It’s been barely two months since I got to be part of some exciting announcements about energy innovation, but there’s already some excellent progress to tell you about. Here’s a quick update.
Just weeks before the announcement, Senator Lisa Murkowski went to the floor of the Senate to make a crucial point: If we’re going to make energy more affordable and reliable while solving the problems created by climate change, we need innovative new approaches. She called on her colleagues to work together to speed up the cycle of innovation.
Since then, her call has been clearly answered. Senator Murkowski and Senator Maria Cantwell joined with colleagues from Tennessee, South Carolina, Illinois, and Hawaii to lead a series of votes in the Senate that laid the groundwork for expanding the federal government’s investments in energy R&D. This weekend, the President highlighted their leadership when he announced that his 2017 budget will call for significant increases in this funding.
This is all very promising, because government investments in early R&D are an essential foundation for successful, innovative industries. The digital revolution was built on government investments in the Internet and the semiconductor. Our thriving biotech industry relies on government investments in basic and applied research into drugs and other therapies. Energy is actually one area where we have historically invested far too little, so it is fantastic to see leaders changing course.
I’m also excited about what’s happened since the announcement of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition last November. We are ready to bring together private investors who will support the most promising energy breakthroughs. We are also working with the top American research institutions to make it easier to take the innovations that come out of their labs—which are supported by government investments in R&D—and turn them into products that change the way we generate energy.
I’m sure I’ll have more to report in the coming months. I’m feeling quite optimistic about the progress we’ll see in 2016 and the years ahead.