I try to be a good person. I try to keep love in my heart for all people. Why do they make it so hard?
Declaring them "mature technologies" that need no further funding, the Bush administration in its FY 2007 budget request eliminates hydropower and geothermal research, venerable programs with roots in the energy crises of the 1970s.
We’re talking about — cumulatively — roughly $50 million in research money. There’s nowhere else in the federal budget we could find $50 million to trim? Really?
Oh, wait, but look, we’re not even saving the money, just reallocating it:
Any savings from the cuts would be nil since all of the nearly $24 million ($1 million from hydropower and $23 million from geothermal) research funding would go to other programs such as biofuels.
It’s a small amount, but it matters quite a bit to the people laboring in the trenches studying this stuff:
… geothermal holds vast potential – at least 30,000 megawatts of identified resources developable by 2050 and more unidentified resources, much of it in Western states, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported in May.
Research aims at new technologies that can use underground zones with good heat but little water and those with lower temperature rocks deeper in the earth.
"The idea that geothermal is a mature technology that doesn’t need further research doesn’t even pass the laugh test," says [Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association].
"There’s this view that hydropower is a technology that’s been around a long time, and there’s not much more we can do to improve it – but we’ve got the next generation of hydropower – ocean, tidal, wave and conduit energy coming on," says Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association, a Washington trade group.
Even those focused on environmental damage from dams worry about lost funding. "We’d like to see federal funding continue for new research on hydrokinetic systems and damless hydro," says Robbin Marks, director of the hydropower reform campaign at American Rivers, a Washington environmental group. "We’re interested in understanding more about the environmental impact of those systems.
"Power from tidal flows, waves, and irrigation canals are expanding the definition of hydropower – none of which are likely to get DOE research funding if the hydropower budget gets whacked, some observers say.
The federal government has not even come close to grasping the situation we’re in. Not even close.
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