Counterpoint to Heritage Foundation’s Attack on U.S. Energy Innovation System

Last week, the Heritage Foundation released a proposal that would nearly dismantle the Department of Energy in the name of budget deficit reduction. The proposal includes numerous inaccuracies and inconsistencies to justify eliminating programs vital to U.S. energy innovation, economic competitiveness, and national security.

In response, Americans for Energy Leadership joined the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and the Breakthrough Institute to publish a detailed counterpoint that documents the fundamental inaccuracies of the Heritage proposal.

Download: “Counterpoint: Heritage Foundation Backgrounder” [PDF]
By Matthew Stepp, Alex Trembath, Daniel Goldfarb, Jesse Jenkins, and Devon Swezey

The Heritage proposal calls for: (1) fully eliminating the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, slashing the $3.2 billion budget, and eliminating proposed advanced nuclear energy technology programs from the Office of Nuclear Energy; (2) eliminating the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program and reducing other applied programs like the Office of Nuclear Energy; (3) cutting $1.59 billion from the Office of Science, including the elimination of two of the four Energy Innovation Hubs, elimination of the 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), elimination of the Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists Program, and a broad range of other cuts to basic energy sciences; (4) eliminating the power marketing administrations; and (5) cutting the administration’s FY2012 budget request for ARPA-E from $650 million to $300 million.

As the counterpoint memo documents, the justification for this extreme proposal contains numerous inaccuracies and inconsistencies, such as:

  • Heritage cites several ventures as evidence of independent private sector efforts to develop next generation energy technologies that in fact each received public support.
  • The report wrongly suggests that DOE budget expenditures are prime targets for substantial deficit reduction.
  • The report uses out-of-context figures to exaggerate the relative magnitude of DOE’s budget.
  • The report is inconsistent in its support and understanding of the DOE’s role in enhancing energy security.
  • The report assumes a zero-sum competition between government and private investors rather than acknowledging the long and successful history of public-private partnerships.
  • Selective and prejudicial history is applied to suggest that government research has little to no commercial aim or value.
  • The report relies on the unfounded assumption that the private sector is, and should be, largely responsible for energy research, commerce, and infrastructure.
  • Heritage acknowledges the role of government in advancing a national interest not met by the private sector, yet claims that the government is not equipped to do so.
  • Heritage is inconsistent in applying their support or opposition to federal programs supporting clean energy innovation.
  • Heritage wrongly suggests that the private sector invests sufficiently in energy innovation.