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July 31, 2019

Chairwoman Johnson Introduces ARPA-E Reauthorization

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) along with Energy Subcommittee Chairman Conor Lamb (D-PA) introduced H.R. 4091, the “ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2019.” H.R. 4091 would authorize a substantial increase in ARPA-E’s authorization level, starting with the FY 2020 House Energy & Water Appropriations mark of $428 million, and then rising to $1 billion in FY 2024. This level is consistent with the original recommendations of the National Academies for establishing and supporting ARPA-E in its seminal Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, as well as more recent strong recommendations from well-respected bipartisan and nonpartisan institutions.

In its review of the program released in June 2017, the National Academies found that a substantial increase in funding would be necessary for ARPA-E to be able to sufficiently support the scale up of particularly promising technologies, such as advanced technologies for energy storage and power electronics. Many of these technologies had previously been supported by the agency, but their development is still too risky to be supported by the private sector alone, and other DOE programs remain ill-suited to steward them. This legislation also includes explicit authorization for ARPA-E to address DOE’s significant nuclear waste clean-up and management issues, and authorization for ARPA-E to support projects to improve the resilience, reliability, and security of our energy infrastructure.

“ARPA-E’s impressive track record now includes over $2.9 billion in private sector follow-on funding for a group of 145 ARPA-E projects since the agency’s founding in 2009,” said Chairwoman Johnson. “Equally notable, 76 projects have formed new companies and 131 projects have shown enough promise to result in partnerships with other government agencies for further development. Moreover, as of March 2019, ARPA-E projects have helped advance scientific understanding and technological innovation through 2,489 peer-reviewed journal articles and 346 patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“Yet to date, ARPA-E has only been able to support about 1% of the proposals submitted for its open funding opportunities, and 12% of the proposals submitted for its focused programs, even though the number of promising, high quality proposals that the agency has received is many times higher.

“Given the broad and deep support for this legislation from the leading industrial, academic, scientific, and environmental organizations of our nation, I look forward to advancing this bill through the Committee in the coming months. And I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to build support for this critical investment in our nation’s clean energy future.”

This legislation has received endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Council on Competitiveness, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the American Gas Association (AGA), the Energy Storage Association (ESA), the Carbon Utilization Research Council (CURC), the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF)Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), ConservAmerica, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Task Force on American Innovation (TFAI), Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Optical Society of America (OSA), IEEE-USA, the Task Force on American Innovation (TFAI), the Energy Sciences Coalition (ESC), and the Gas Technology Institute (GTI).