Provisions in Omnibus Spending Bill Provide Solid Foundation for Next Congress to Drive Clean Energy Innovation, Says ITIF

December 16, 2020

WASHINGTON—The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) today applauded a bipartisan energy package that congressional leaders were set to include in an omnibus spending bill. The following statement is from David Hart, director of ITIF’s Clean Energy Innovation Policy Program:

The energy package that congressional leaders are rolling into this omnibus spending bill advances key priorities for U.S. clean energy innovation. It establishes a foundation that lawmakers must continue to build on in the next Congress.

The most damaging gap in America’s clean energy innovation system has been a lack of federal support for demonstration projects. The package begins to close that gap by authorizing a new portfolio of projects. Federal R&D programs have long neglected key challenges that must be solved for the United States to achieve net-zero emissions, such as long-duration energy storage, industrial decarbonization, and direct air capture of carbon dioxide. This package authorizes new Energy Department programs to tackle them. Congress hasn’t revisited the authorizations for many existing R&D programs in a decade or more, and this package brings them up to date.

The package is a good step forward, but Congress must do much more in the next session. The first step will be ensuring programs authorized by today’s package—especially demonstration projects—are fully funded through appropriations. Congress should triple the federal clean energy innovation investment by 2025. New authorizing legislation should ramp up the nation’s ambitions to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, fill other gaps in the clean energy innovation system, and radically accelerate deployment of clean energy technologies that are mature or nearly so.

Durable climate solutions must rest on bipartisan agreement, as this package does. It represents a blend of House and Senate priorities and includes inputs from many Members representing diverse districts and states. As a result, it advances a diverse array of innovations. It is a precedent that can and must be built upon.