Groups Voice Opposition to R&D Cuts on Geothermal, Hydropower

In response to the Bush Administration’s efforts to end support for geothermal and hydropower research and development (R&D) in its Fiscal Year 2008 budget request, more than 100 business, environmental, faith-based, energy-policy and other organizations — joined by 50 additional individual signers — urged President Bush to restore funding to both programs in a letter sent to the White House last week.

The letter recommended that these programs be funded “at a level at least equal to that provided in Fiscal Year 2005 (FY’05), if not higher.” Citing the programs’ need for federal support, the letter stated that “the nation can achieve its goals of curbing energy imports, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, stabilizing energy prices and protecting national security only if it supports the full spectrum of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies including geothermal and hydropower. Study after study has confirmed the potential of both geothermal energy and a range of hydropower technologies (both conventional and new, such as ocean wave, tidal and hydrokinetic) to address the nation’s near-term energy needs economically and in an environmentally sound manner.” “Shutting down DOE research will set-back efforts to utilize our largely untapped geothermal resources,” said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association. Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association, said “New technological advancements, such as ocean, tidal and in-stream power, will bring more clean, climate- friendly and renewable hydropower online at a time when the nation’s energy demands continue to grow. However, a commitment from the federal government of R&D support is needed if the hydropower industry is to reach its full potential.” The letter also noted a disparity in energy funding: “the Office of Management and Budget as well as the U.S. Department of Energy are proposing that these programs be terminated next year because they are ‘mature’ technologies that can survive in the marketplace on their own. We believe this is an argument more appropriately applied to the range of fossil fuel and nuclear power programs that continue to be heavily subsidized and supported by the federal government. And while it is true that geothermal and hydropower technologies are now making important contributions to the nation’s energy supply, significantly increasing this contribution requires federal support for the development and deployment of promising new, more efficient and environmentally friendlier technologies.” For the full letter from the Sustainable Energy Network e-mail or call 301-588-4741.
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