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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

American Universities/Students Lack R&D Funds to Meet Global Warming Challenge


American Universities Lack R&D Funds to Meet Global Warming Challenge

Best Student Minds Heading Overseas to Find Climate and Clean Energy Programs, Say Top Educators

WASHINGTON DC – In Congressional testimony yesterday, representatives from several of the nation’s leading universities warned that research and development money dedicated to solving the climate crisis was woefully lacking on our college campuses. Even as a record number of students in math, science and technology are seeking curricula that focus on global warming and energy solutions, they are being shut out due to lack of resources.

In turn, other nations such as Portugal and Germany have aggressively invested in clean energy R&D, placing the United States at risk of falling behind in the global race to invent the green technologies of the future.

“These days, the funding of global warming and clean technology research on American campuses isn’t making the grade,” said Congressman Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which hosted the educators yesterday in a hearing. “Instead of opening up classrooms to create the clean energy future we all want, we’re slamming the doors in the faces of our nation’s greatest students.”

Below are excerpts from the administrators and professors from the nation’s leading research universities who testified before the Select Committee:

Dr. Susan Hockfield, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testified:
•    “If we fail to make major strategic investments in energy research now, we will swiftly forfeit the advantage to our competitors, from China and India to Germany and Japan.  Other countries have the money and motivation, and they are chasing the technology almost as fast as we are. We must make sure that in the energy technology markets of the future, we have the power to invent, produce and sell, not the obligation to buy.”

•    “The (MIT) students' interest is absolutely deafening, and one of my fears is that if we don't fund the kind of research that will fuel innovation, these very brilliant students will see that a bright future actually lies elsewhere, even despite their passion for solving what I believe is the greatest challenge of our era.”  

Dr. Stephen Forrst, VP of Research, University of Michigan, wrote in his testimony:
•    “Many of the young researchers I encounter are eager to join in and devote their entire careers to this grand effort. However, their enthusiasm is tempered by what has been the unpredictable and steadily declining level of support for energy R&D over the last two decades. Simply put, the U.S. has not responded in a manner proportionate to the threat posed by entering an energy-insecure future”

Dr. Daniel Kammen, Professor, University of California-Berkeley, testified:
•    “While investment in research and development is roughly 3 percent of gross domestic product, it is roughly one-tenth that in the energy sector.  By contrast, R&D investments in the medical and biotechnology field are roughly 15 percent of sales, almost a staggering 40 times more than in the energy field.

•    “The fact that we see three to five times more jobs per dollar invested in the clean tech energy area -- and I am including energy efficiency that we have not mentioned explicitly here, but it is vital to the equation, this job dividend, green collar jobs, inner city jobs, as well as the high end jobs    is a critical benefit that we can capture. And right now many of those jobs are going to Germany, Norway, Portugal.  So we are losing out. In fact, little Portugal just set up a clean energy research investment fund larger than the entire U.S. investment in this area.”

•    “When I came to Berkeley from Princeton in 1998 there were 45 students in the graduate level energy class. We capped the class this semester of 320. And to let you know, I have a huge problem finding qualified teaching assistants because we have so swamped the potential spaces.”  

Dr. Jack Fellows, VP, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, testified:
•    “There has been an erosion of key observational and science programs at NASA, NOAA, and NSF at precisely the time when they are most needed.”  

For additional information and full testimony from this hearing, please visit the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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