FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

National Science Board Seeking Comment on Sustainable Energy Future Report

Richard M. Jones
Number 47 - April 24, 2009  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The first sentence of a sixty-one page report recently released by the National Science Board makes clear its focus: “The fundamental transformation of the current extractive U.S. fossil fuel energy economy to a sustainable energy economy is a critical challenge facing the Nation today.” The Board seeks public comment on this report by May 1.

The twenty-five members of the National Science Board set policies for the National Science Foundation and provide advice on science and engineering issues to the President and Congress. The Board is chaired by Steven Beering of Purdue University. The chair of the AIP Governing Board, Louis Lanzerotti of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is a member of the National Science Board. The task force producing the report was co-chaired by Dan Arvizu of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Jon Strauss of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

“Building a Sustainable Energy Future” provides an overview of the leadership and coordination actions that the U.S. government must take to “initiate and sustain a transformation to a sustainable energy economy.” Six findings in federal leadership and coordination, R&D investment, policy development, energy education and workforce, global cooperation, and energy awareness and action are described with accompanying goals, culminating in the following overarching priority recommendation to the federal government:

“The U.S. Government should develop, clearly define, and lead a nationally coordinated research, development, demonstration, deployment, and education (RD3E) strategy to transform the U.S. energy system to a sustainable energy economy that is far less carbon-intensive.”

Reflecting the dual responsibilities of the Board, it offers the National Science Foundation this primary guidance:

“The National Science Foundation should continue to increase emphasis on innovation in sustainable energy technologies and education as a top priority.”

Six additional guidance recommendations are offered to the foundation in areas such as research, partnerships, workforce development, international collaborations, and public awareness and action.

With much attention focused on sustainable energy, the main body of this report, at 22 pages, provides a concise and useful overview of needed actions to move the nation away from a carbon-intensive energy economy. Included as sustainable energy sources are hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, solar, and biomass that now produce 7 percent of the nation’s energy supply. Appendix A of the report also includes as a sustainable energy investment area “advanced, sustainable nuclear power” which “offers the possibility of providing continuous and dependable base-load electricity without the greenhouse gas emissions produced from fossil-fueled power plants.” Nuclear electric power supplies 8 percent of all U.S. energy.

The task force identified three urgent drives to a sustainable energy future: increasing energy independence, enhancing environmental stewardship, and the generating of economic growth. “With resolve and invigorated initiative, the United States is positioned to successfully build and support a sustainable energy future,” the report concludes.

See this site for a copy of this report, and a link to offer public comment.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095