Issue Date: January 29, 2007
Energy R&D funding has plummeted since 1970s
Federal government R&D spending for fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy has dropped by 85% over the past 30 years, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO-07-106). The report looked at funding from 1978 to 2005 and found that budget authorization for fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy R&D has steadily declined from $5.5 billion to under $1 billion. Most of the drop occurred between 1980 and 1985. A small rise took place in the early 1990s, but then the decline continued. GAO's report says U.S. government energy R&D spending has pretty much matched the price of oil—as oil prices drop so does energy research funding. The end result, GAO says, is that the U.S. is more dependent on imported crude oil and natural gas now than it was 30 years ago. It also notes that without any penalty for the environmental impact of CO2 emissions, the U.S. is likely to become even more reliant on cheap and abundant coal for electricity generation, despite its high CO2 emissions. GAO recommends Congress consider additional research funding focused on advanced energy technologies.
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