14 Nov '11, 8pm

Has government spending on energy research been a waste?

Cross-posted from the Council on Foreign Relations . Steve Mufson had a piece in the Washington Post Outlook section this past weekend suggesting that the $172 billion that the U.S. government has spent on early stage energy research since 1961 has largely been a waste. (I say "suggesting" rather than "arguing" because Mufson doesn't quite make the point explicitly; that said, it's hard to read his essay without being nudged toward that conclusion.) There's a lot of smart stuff in the piece, but in the end, it's unconvincing. The basic reason is simple: it doesn't take much for $172 billion of spending on energy innovation to pay off. U.S. consumers spent roughly $30 trillion on primary fuels and electricity infrastructure between 1970 and 2009. (Data from here ; I've adjusted everything to 2005 dollars.) That doesn't include all the money spent on energy consuming technol...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/energy-policy/2011-11-14-has-governm...

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