Obama budget request for hi-tech energy office 'timid': Republican

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 05, 2015 6:03 PM

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate energy committee's head on Thursday said President Barack Obama's budget request for an agency that funds projects that could revolutionize energy markets - like long-range car batteries and turning bacteria into fuel - was too "timid."

The White House's budget for fiscal 2016, released on Monday, includes $325 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E. That represented an increase of $45 million over what ARPA-E was allocated for this year but was equal to Obama's original request last year.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, told reporters on Capitol Hill she saw "great value" in ARPA-E, which was modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

At least two ARPA-E funded companies have gone public in the last several years, including bioengineering company Ceres Inc and power converter maker Ideal Power.

"I thought that he was pretty timid" with funding for ARPA-E in the budget, she said. "You're going to find me a proponent of ARPA-E."

With global temperatures hitting record highs last year, there are signs that many Republicans are beginning to shape their messaging on how to tackle climate change.

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Research and development has long been seen as a safe issue for both political parties to support as a solution.

In 2007, Congress authorized ARPA-E, part of the Department of Energy, when George W. Bush, a Republican, was president. The agency launched in 2009 when Obama allocated it $400 million.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)