U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Program Receives First Appropriation
Congress to provide $2 million for 2009 to start cooperative projects
Federal spending legislation passed by Congress today includes $2 million for U.S.-Israel energy cooperation. This funding represents the first appropriation for a program originally sponsored by Congressman Brad Sherman as the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act.
The funds will go to a grant program that will provide assistance to cooperative efforts by Israeli and U.S. government agencies, businesses, and academic institutions to develop technologies that will utilize alternative energy sources and increase energy efficiency. These funds were included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2009, a bill that will fund much of the federal government's non-defense spending for fiscal year 2009. Israeli officials have committed to contribute additional funds for this project.
"This is an important step in our efforts to cooperate with a partner that has a proven record of innovation in the field of energy research," Sherman said. "Israel should be viewed, not as a place of tsuris, rather, as a place where hope, energy, and ideas are generated. I look forward to working with the Obama Administration on ramping up this program in future budgets, including the fiscal year 2010 budget expected a few weeks from now."
"Israel and the United States already have a long track record of successful, cooperative research in medicine, biotech, and agriculture," Sherman added. "It's time we work together to tackle the great challenges of our time --- energy security and job creation."
Congressman Sherman first introduced the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act in 2004, along with Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Eliot Engel (D-NY). Congress ultimately enacted the legislation as Section 917 of a larger energy reform bill, the Energy Independence and Security Act, in December 2007.
In a June 2008 address to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, then candidate Barack Obama praised Sherman's legislation and pledged to increase U.S. cooperative efforts with Israel:
"It is time for the United States to take real steps to end our addiction to oil, and we can join Israel, building on last year's U.S.-Israeli Energy Cooperation Act to deepen our partnership in developing alternative sources of energy. We should work with Israel, increasing scientific collaboration and joint research and development."
The Consolidated Appropriations Act was approved today by the Senate and will be signed by President Obama within days.