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America’s Split Personality on Energy

The past two weeks have brought home this country’s split personality when it comes to our energy policy. Maybe it’s because I just moved from Washington, D.C. to California that I’m unusually focused on the entrenched differences between national and state policy, but it sure seems like America will never overcome the two separate identities: one that recognizes the need to continue moving toward a more secure, diversified, and sustainable energy future, and one that clings to the status quo.

Here’s an example. Last week the House of Representatives voted to pass the 2013 appropriations bill for energy and water programs, which essentially determines national spending level for key water and energy infrastructure next year. Here’s what the measure does: it cuts $75 million – nearly one-third of the entire program budget—from the popular ARPA-E program, which funds some of the most critical cutting-edge research on new and advanced energy technologies so that they can be commercialized in the U.S. and bring back jobs and profits to U.S. companies. It cuts funding by half a billion dollars for the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program, which provides targeted support for advanced vehicles, advanced manufacturing and other clean energy programs that are revitalizing regions like Detroit, Toledo, and Richmond California. It cuts funding for basic research and scientific data collection from the Energy Information Administration and the Office of Science.

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