Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Research Pays for Itself

Investments in clean energy will unleash innovations, create jobs.

USA Today 3/5/09

By Steven Chu

To lift our economy and put Americans back to work, President Obama is making a major investment in clean energy.

Clean energy is the best opportunity we have to create jobs today and launch the industries of tomorrow. It's also critical for our security — to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil — and to save our planet from the potentially devastating effects of climate change.

We have begun the transformation to a clean energy economy through the president's economic recovery plan. And to truly rise to this challenge, President Obama has pledged to invest $15 billion a year to develop and deploy the next generation of renewable energy technology here in America.

As history has shown repeatedly with science funding, this investment will pay for itself many times over. Americans will save far more on their energy bills than we spend on research.

At a time of economic crisis, this bold action is absolutely necessary.

Meeting our energy challenge will require a partnership between government and private sector companies, but the government must lead.

With a network of 17 national laboratories and researchers at 300 colleges and universities, the federal government knows how to do this work. Public investment in research has been critical to developing everything from hybrid-vehicle batteries to lifesaving cancer treatments.

As we have in the past, we will work with the private sector to take breakthroughs on energy from the research lab to the manufacturing plant to the retail store.

We will move with the greatest speed, transparency and accountability because we cannot afford to fail. We will post our progress on www.recovery.gov so you can know how your tax dollars are being spent.

With these investments, we will unlock the true potential of solar and wind energy. We will develop advanced biofuels and learn to use coal in a clean way. We will make highly fuel-efficient cars and trucks. And those are just the technologies we already know about.

This strategic investment in clean energy will unleash the innovations that will power our economy for years to come.

Steven Chu is secretary of Energy and a co-winner of the Nobel Prize for physics.

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