The final appropriations agreement for fiscal year 2017 increases funding for the Energy Department’s applied energy offices and the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, a demonstration of congressional support for a set of programs the Trump administration has targeted for deep cuts.
Last week, the Senate confirmed Rick Perry as secretary of energy. Supporters point to his capabilities as a manager, while opponents doubt his commitment to protecting the Department of Energy and advancing its mission. Addressing department employees, Perry described his “journey” from having called for DOE’s elimination to being an advocate for its work.
The chairman’s plans include reforming the use of science in EPA rulemaking, prioritizing basic research at the Department of Energy, promoting STEM education, overseeing cybersecurity investigations, and adjusting NASA’s mission portfolio.
The Senate is expected to confirm Rick Perry as secretary of energy following a relatively uncontentious hearing on Jan. 19, at which the former Texas governor vowed to be a champion for all Department of Energy activities. However, Perry’s support has been partially overshadowed by a report that the Trump administration plans to target DOE for deep budget cuts and program eliminations.
In his final public speech in D.C., Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz rolled out the first annual report on the state of the Department of Energy national laboratories alongside an enhanced scientific integrity policy that now applies to all DOE employees, including those at the labs.
The House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on a sweeping energy policy bill with numerous R&D-related provisions before the end of the 114th Congress. The effort may be revived in the new Congress, but the character of the bill could change considerably since the Republicans will control the White House as well as both chambers of Congress.
President-elect Donald Trump has selected former Texas Governor Rick Perry as his nominee for Secretary of Energy. Perry is a critic of the federal bureaucracy who has advocated for DOE’s elimination and derided climate science as systematically biased, but he is also an advocate for innovation in clean energy.
Although no one on the president-elect’s transition team has been publicly identified as a lead point of contact for science issues broadly or at the agency level, a few members of the landing teams for agencies including the Department of Energy and NASA have backgrounds in science and/or science policy.
This week, Vice President Biden presented an implementation plan for the administration's Cancer Moonshot Initiative and advocated for a culture shift toward more team-oriented, interdisciplinary research that leverages shared datasets and draws on expertise from a broader range of federal agencies, including the Department of Energy.
If the energy bill is to become law before the end of this Congress, the conference committee led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski will have to successfully hash out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, including on research and advanced nuclear reactor development at the Energy Department and critical minerals exploration at the Interior Department.