WASHINGTON — A proposal for a new government energy research agency patterned after the Pentagon's research office appears to be gaining momentum in Congress.
The House Science and Technology Committee held hearings this week on proposed legislation to create an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E. The proposed office would be modeled after the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, which is credited with ground-breaking technology research in fields ranging from weapons to the Internet.
A House bill, H.R. 364, would establish ARPA-E and create an "Energy Independence Acceleration Fund" to pay for energy research projects.
"The question is how far are we willing to go to enact real change that garners tangible results?" Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the science panel, said during a hearing on Thursday (April 26). "We've got to be willing to push the envelope and think outside the box to get the job done."
Sponsors of the legislation said ARPA-E would act as a "broker" that would bring together industry and university researchers with U.S. national laboratories. The agency would "put them together in hybrid teams to rapidly develop novel solutions to pressing energy problems," the committee said in a statement.