Tuesday, March 13, 2007

White House seeks to cut geothermal research funds

From Reuters...

The Bush administration wants to eliminate federal support for geothermal power just as many U.S. states are looking to cut greenhouse gas emissions and raise renewable power output. The move has angered scientists who say there is enough hot water underground to meet all U.S. electricity needs without greenhouse gas emissions.

"[Geothermal] is far from a mature technology." —Roy Mink, former geothermal program director at the U.S. Dept. of Energy

The Department of Energy has not requested funds for geothermal research in our fiscal-year 2008 budget," said Christina Kielich, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy. "Geothermal is a mature technology. Our focus is on breakthrough energy research and development."

The administration of George W. Bush has made renewable energy a priority as it seeks to wean the United States off foreign oil, but it emphasizes use of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel for vehicles and nuclear research for electricity. In spite of its enormous potential, the geothermal option for the United States has been largely ignored,' a recent study led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said.

Last year, the DOE requested no funding for geothermal for the 2007 fiscal year, after funding averaged about $26 million over the previous six years, but Congress restored $5 million. This year, the DOE's $24.3 billion budget request includes a 38 percent federal spending increase for nuclear power, but nothing for geothermal.

Advocates say they hope Congress can restore at least $25 million in funding to keep geothermal research on track...

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