So "what's good about this" you ask? We may be wishfully thinking, but we the law of global unintended consequences could come to the rescue. At least a partial rescue. The researchers probably saw the writing on the wall months ago. They'll be snatched up by private sector employers, or even by government projects in other countries. Hopefully when they go they'll help the support staff find some work with them. And in several years we'll be able to post about their successes.
We know what you're thinking. It's short sighted to reduce resources and demoralize the epicenter for renewable energy innovation in the US'. Though TreeHugger usually manages to locate positive aspects of a story, this item from Rocky Mountain News is a tough one. "The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden plans to lay off as many as 100 scientists and researchers, or 11 percent of its total staff, beginning early next month as it faces drastic cuts in its budget. The fiscal 2006 cuts, estimated at more than $20 million, or 10 percent of its $200 million budget in fiscal 2005, are the result of Congress earmarking or diverting a big chunk of federal funds toward other projects". So many Congressional representatives were elected on the basis of their environmental expertise and values, it only makes sense that they would take a lead on setting NREL research priorties! Parody aside: we're not into conspiracies about fossil fuel companies lobbying to protect market share by slowing renewable energy development. The real explanation has to be more banal.More from the RMT story: "We are going to face a very difficult year at NREL," said Bob Noun, NREL's deputy associate director. "This is a real paradox. "At a time in which renewable energy enjoys significant bipartisan support in Congress, that very support has spawned all of these projects around the country that have diverted funds from NREL's research programs."