FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Meeting of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

Richard M. Jones
Number 100 - August 4, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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“Pay attention to this.  This is a big deal,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the members of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) at its July 20 meeting.  Chu was commenting on the forthcoming Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR) that will be the basis for a long term plan for energy.  The board gave an enthusiastic response to the QTR that is being conducted under the leadership of Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin.  DOE will submit the QTR to the White House early this month, and release it to the public in mid-September. 

This was the fourth meeting of SEAB since it was reestablished by the Obama Administration.   SEAB’s charter states: “The Board will provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy on the Department's basic and applied research and development activities, economic and national security policy, educational issues, operational issues and any other activities and operations of the Department of Energy as the Secretary may direct.”  SEAB currently has 14 members.

The agenda for this all-day meeting was wide-ranging.  In opening remarks Chu described the more business-like approach the department is taking in the management of its programs.  The secretary praised ARPA-E as a model for the department to follow, and described progress that DOE has made. 

“Things have gone quite well” ARPA-E Director Arun Majumdar told the Board. He spoke of the many hours he has spent on Capitol Hill, and how he views the House’s recent vote to continue level funding in FY 2012 as an indication of bipartisan support for the agency.  Majumdar wants to increase coordination between his agency, the Office of Science, and DOE’s applied programs.  He cited the Sunshot Initiative as an example of this approach.
Other topics covered during the meeting included progress the Office of Environmental Management has made in remediating radioactive waste which will likely extend for the next 40-50 years and cost a quarter-trillion dollars.  SEAB members were also briefed on Small Modular Reactors; a subcommittee examining transportation, building efficiency, and improving the electrical grid; a forthcoming study on natural gas production; and a study on improving technology transition.  There was no direct discussion regarding the Office of Science.

SEAB’s next meeting will be October 12, 2011 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Note: the next FYI will be issued the week of August 22.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics