US Budget Focuses on a 21st Century Economy

The 2017 budget includes R&D Funds for the Future of Transportation, Energy and Water.

While climate change as a global phenomenon may still be controversial in the US, the need for clean water, and more efficient transportation and energy isn't. It is hard to imagine that anyone believes that our future will meet the needs of our growing population with the same technologies that made us great in the industrial revolution. The recent reports from Flint Michigan and now Jackson, Mississippi have drawn attention to the very real dangers in ignoring our water infrastructure. The recent successes of automobile manufacturers who are exploring efficient vehicles, battery storage devices made in the US, solar that has reached billions in investment and wind generating gigaWatts of energy are all part of a revolution that is essential to redefining how resources are used. It isn't a small task. Those who imagine that such expenditures are unnecessary are the fortunate few who have not experienced black-outs, spend hours in traffic jams, had their homes or supply chain harmed by erratic climate, or worried about the taste of water from their taps. 

President Obama is not one of them. The Office of Management and Budget released a summary of Mr. Obama's plan includes a section on "Innovation To Forge A Better Future". It focuses on a broad range of issues, including energy, transportation and water, as well as job growth and innovation. For  Brad Woodhouse, of Americans United for Change, the budget moves the United States closer to ending subsidies for fossil fuels. Fossil fuels made us great, and that makes the end of oil a hard pill for many to swallow. 

“At a time of budget deficits, the fact that the oil industry continues to enjoy $35 billion preferential tax treatment over the next ten years is appalling.  As a nation we have many more important spending priorities than lining the pockets of one of the most profitable industries year after year, decade after decade."

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Purpose Cost in Billions* Investment Goals
Building a 21st Century Transportation System. $ 320 bn  Build a clean transportation system for the 21st Century that speeds goods to market while reducing America’s reliance on oil, cutting carbon pollution, and strengthening resilience to the effects of the changing climate.
Prioritizing Research and Development. $ 152 bn  Support R&D through both discretionary and mandatory funding proposals.
  Doubling Clean Energy R&D $ 7.7 bn  For fundamental and transformative clean energy R&D across 12 agencies, a first step in support of Mission Innovation, the landmark agreement currently among 20 countries to double government funding for clean energy R&D over five years.
   Supporting Basic Research $ 14.6 bn  Invest in the basic research that is most likely to have spillover impacts to multiple endeavors and where the private sector typically under-invests. Funds for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
   Supporting a Cancer Moonshot $1.0 bn  Accelerate the development of new cancer detection and treatments through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration, and support from other agencies such as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
  Advancing Biomedical Research $33.1 bn  Provide about 10,000 new and competing NIH grants that will help us better understand the fundamental causes and mechanisms of diseases.
  Revitalizing American Manufacturing   Investment in coordinated, cutting-edge manufacturing R&D, while expanding industry-driven workforce training and providing additional resources through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help America’s small manufacturers access the technology and expertise they need to expand. Includes investments to grow the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, a national network of innovative R&D centers to help keep U.S. manufacturing in the lead on technology.
  Creating the Industries and Jobs of the Future   Investment in R&D to help create the industries and jobs of the future, such as supercomputing, Big Data, robotics, advanced materials, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology. as well as sustaining development of autonomous vehicle technologies and self-driving cars.
  Investing in Civil Space Activities   Supports space exploration, monitor the Earth’s weather and climate from space, develop new space technologies, and partner with the private sector to take the next step on the journey to Mars.
    Addressing Challenges in Agriculture through R&D   Invest in agricultural R&D: the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive research grants; the Agricultural Research Service intramural research; and construction and renovation of key infrastructure investments based on the Department of Agriculture’s facility modernization plan.
   Simplifying and Expanding the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit   Make the Research and Experimentation (R&E) Tax Credit permanent and expand the incentive for R&D investments by small businesses. The Budget simplifies and expands the tax credit.
Protecting and Expanding the Nation’s Water Supply   Support a two-part water innovation strategy to boost water sustainability and reduce the price and energy costs of new water supply technology to increase the resilience of our Nation’s water supplies.
Supporting Adoption of Clean Energy $1.3 bn  To accelerate the adoption of clean energy sources such as solar, wind, and low-carbon fossil fuels, and energy-efficiency technologies.
Partnering with Communities to Tackle Climate Risk   Investment in programs that advance our scientific understanding of projected climate impacts; assist communities in planning and preparing for future risks; and support risk-reduction and adaptation projects on the ground.
Protecting and Preserving Public Lands and Oceans   To support proven programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund that allow Federal agencies and their partners to enhance the resilience of our lands and waters, and continue to preserve and share our cultural and historical identity.
Leading Global Efforts to Cut Carbon Pollution and Enhance Climate Change Resilience $1.3 bn  To advance the goals of the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) through important multilateral and bilateral engagement with major and emerging economies. Includes funding for the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which will help developing countries leverage public and private financing to invest in reducing carbon pollution and strengthening resilience to climate change.
 * Where no budget figure, falls under the $152 Bn that includes discretionary spending.

Mr. Woodhouse went on to say that the oil industry has been benefiting at the expense of taxpayers for over 100 years. Using a common refrain, he added that the Federal Government should not be picking winners and losers. Mr. Obama's budget is a step toward a national energy policy which can set long term goals to control costs, insure a resilient infrastructure, support fuels that lower carbon and other toxic chemicals such as sulfur dioxides, and reduce national dependence on the oil that has been the recent cause of much unrest.

Mr. Woodhouse concluded by saying, "Now is the time to have a level playing field for all fuels. There is absolutely no reason that one of the world’s most profitable industries should have billions in subsidies." Perhaps the reality of funding for new approaches to energy could engage the expertise of those who have been part of the growth of the past to help forge the future.