If anyone needed proof that the US Congress is now a whipped puppy that slavishly obeys the orders of its masters — Charles and David Koch — the House last week completely eliminated funding for ARPA-E while giving the administration more money for fossil fuel research than the #FakePresident asked for.
What Is ARPA-E?
ARPA-E stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy. It’s mission is to fund research into clean energy technologies that have a high risk of failure (meaning private industry won’t take a huge chance them) but also a high reward factor if successful. The concept is similar to DAPRA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, which started exploring the technology for vehicles that drive themselves decades ago.
Begun as part of the economic stimulus package that followed the collapse of the US economy in 2008, ARPA-E has four objectives:
- To bring a freshness, excitement, and sense of mission to energy research that will attract the U.S.’s best and brightest minds;
- To focus on creative, transformation energy research that the industry cannot, or will not support due to its high risk, but that has high reward potential;
- To utilize an ARPA-like organization that is flat, nimble, and sparse, capable of sustaining for long periods of time those projects whose promise remains real, while phasing out programs that do not prove to be as promising as anticipated; and
- To create a new tool to bridge the gap between basic energy research and development/industrial innovation.
Republicans Embrace 19th Century Technology
Thanks to the brave leadership of Congressman David McKinley, a Republican from West Virginia, his amendment to an appropriations bill was passed by the House. It eliminates all funding for ARPA-E and slashes funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 45% from last year’s budget. But McKinley’s amendment has forever cemented his position in the Koch Industries Hall of Fame by nearly doubling funding for fossil fuel research above that requested by the administration’s budget.
The mealy mouth dirty energy stooge attempted to justify his support for fossil fuels with this weasel-worded statement: “Coal, natural gas and oil — fossil fuels — make up 81 percent of this nation’s energy consumption. In reality, the entire world is going to be dependent on fossil fuels for years to come. Shouldn’t America’s goal be to develop the technologies so that we can utilize coal, natural gas and oil in the cleanest and most efficient way possible?” Maybe we should take another look at “clean coal” strategies, Congressman?
Thanks to McKinley’s leadership, $668 million of taxpayer dollars could soon be committed to find new and better ways to pollute the atmosphere with more carbon dioxide and other pollutants that are a danger to human health. Charles and David must be giddy with joy knowing their business activities will continue to lead to the premature death of tens of thousands of Americans.
Representative Jared Polis of Colorado was one of several Democrats who attempted to derail the Koch Brothers’ juggernaut. “We should invest in our future for renewable energy and energy efficiency rather than throwing more money at the past and into nuclear weapons,” he said. “Fossil fuel research is a dead end for America and our economy, for the clean air we need and clean water.” Amen, brother. You’re preaching to the choir around here.
But Wait, There’s More
Not content with the death of ARPA-E, House Republicans also approved an amendment that prohibits any federal funds being used to support the Cape Winds offshore wind energy project. Then in the cruelest cut of all, they passed an amendment eliminating development programs for Appalachia — home to the very voters who flocked to the polls to support The Trumpeter in the mistaken belief that he would bring economic relief to the region. How great it must feel to know the party you pinned all your hopes on has now thrown you under the bus and is dancing on your grave.
The House Republicans did have one piece of good news, though. They approved $1.6 billion to begin planning for a “big, beautiful wall” between the USA and Mexico. In a week of turmoil that made the Republican Party the object of international scorn and ridicule, proving once again how deeply Americans loathe foreigners is surely something the Republicans in Congress are intensely proud of. Nothing says love quite like putting your hatred of others on public display. That is one achievement the Republican Party can always be proud of.