photo of Dr. Steven Chu, via flickr
Lost among the outrage over the Obama Administration's plans to open up vast areas of the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling was news that the US and China are giving a cash infusion to the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center. The move is proof positive that although this administration continues to take 2 steps forward and one step back on energy and climate, it is serious about transforming how we use and create energy. The US wil contribute $37.5 million dollars over the net five years to the research center while China gives $75 million dollars. US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a press release:
"Cooperation between China and the United States on clean energy is crucial to confronting the global climate crisis and presents an important opportunity to create American jobs and build U.S. leadership in a growing global industry. By jointly developing new technologies and learning from China's experiences, we can create new export opportunities for American companies and ensure that we remain on the cutting edge of innovation. This partnership will also be a foundation for broader partnerships with China on cutting carbon pollution."
The funding will contribute to building up efficiency, carbon capture and sequestration, and clean vehicles technology in the world's two largest polluting economies. The funding is part of a massive stream of federal dollars going toward clean energy research and deployment. Many might quibble with the direction of that funding, but there is no doubt that the Department of Energy is becoming the largest clean energy venture capital source in the country. In the 2009 federal stimulus, $60 billion was earmarked for clean energy-related programs.
According to the amazingly well designed www.recovery.gov, a website set up to track the progress of stimulus spending--and a great resource to push back on erroneous Tea Party claims about accountability-- the DOE has roughly $27 billion dollars remaining to award.