The United States ought to have an energy policy – that’s the crazy idea put forth by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a group of experts from academia, non-governmental organizations and industry. More money for R&D wouldn’t hurt, either, the group said.
Responding to a request from U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, PCAST put together a report with a title long enough to get to the gist of their recommendations: “Accelerating the Pace of Change in Energy Technologies Through an Integrated Federal Energy Policy.” While simply having a clearly stated, strategic energy plan heads the group’s recommendation, it’s the integration part that gets chief focus in their announcement.
PCAST said the scattered, uncoordinated approach to energy policy by the federal government is a big impediment to the country taking advantage of “clean, secure, safe and affordable” new sources of energy. To tackle that problem, the group recommended borrowing a tool from the Pentagon: The Quadrennial Defense Review.
“A Quadrennial Energy Review could establish national goals and coordinate actions across agencies,” PCAST said. “It could also identify the resources needed for the invention, development and adoption of new energy technologies options, and policy options such as incentives and regulations to facilitate these activities.”
Along with revamping the approach to forming policy, PCAST had a simple but perhaps even more challenging recommendation: boost by $10 billion the amount of money the government pours into energy-related research and development each year. “For the near term, these funds could come from small charges on energy production, delivery and/or use,” the group said, “while in the intermediate and long term they may come from carbon dioxide emissions pricing.”
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