Chaired By: Rep. Bart Gordon
Witnesses: Dr. John Holdren, Director, Office Of Science And Technology Policy
Copyright ©2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500, 1000 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20005 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service at www.fednews.com, please email Carina Nyberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-216-2706.
REP. BART GORDON (D-TN): Okay. This hearing will come to order, and good afternoon and welcome to the day's hearing to review the administration's Fiscal Year, 2010, Research and Development budget and I'd like to begin today by congratulating Dr. Holdren on your new position and thank you for the excellent work you have done in planning for an aggressive new science and technology policies and budgets.
I also want to congratulate you on your strong leadership role on science integrity. It's very much welcomed. We just received the budget a week ago, so we are still absorbing the details. So far I'm impressed that President Obama has committed the resources to back up his eloquent words about the importance of science to our society.
Even before his inauguration, the President called me and the first thing he said was, "I'm a science guy." And he clearly has affirmed that two weeks ago in his unprecedented speech before the National Academies and last week in his Research and Development budget proposal.
So far this year this committee has reported out legislation on STEM education, nanotechnology, information technology, water resources, electronics recycling, design of green buildings, and international cooperation. Every one of those bills is bipartisan and all but two have already passed the House.
What they share in common is that they address broad multi- disciplinary, multi-sector issues that require resources, leadership and planning across several and often a dozen or more of our federal agencies.
President Obama said in his inaugural address that it's not about bigger or smaller government, it's about smarter government. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is providing funds to help us work smarter but we are facing tough budget times and we won't always have new money at hand.
That's why we must make more efficient and effective use of the limited resources we have to tackle these difficult issues and that is where Dr. Holdren and OSTP come in.
I know we have been putting in a lot of responsibilities on you in our legislation, Dr. Holdren, but we will try to get you more resources so you and your able staff can carry out those duties.
But I also want to assure you and remind everyone else that the burden is not entirely on OSTP. These enormous tasks will confront such as strengthening, STEM education, improving management of our water resources, require leadership and willingness to cooperate, coordinate, and share information on the part of many federal agencies.
A lot of opportunities to use science and technology to tackle our nation's greatest challenges were neglected or seemed to have fall (sic) between the cracks in the last several years. I know that Dr. Holdren and many other fine scientists and leaders that President Obama has appointed to senior positions in the administration will take this task to heart and I'm optimistic that they will succeed in helping us to turn the tide on many of these challenges, and I look forward to a good discussion about the President's proposal, the research and development funding in the next year's budget, and how funding will be targeted to address the challenges we face.
And the Chair now recognizes Mr. Hall for his opening statement.
REP. RALPH M. HALL (R-TX): I thank you, Mr. Chairman, as usual for calling this hearing to review administration's FY 2010 Research and Development Budget and related Science and Technology Policy priorities. I think it's very important.
And, Dr. Holdren, I'd like to welcome you here today and congratulate you. I think I congratulate you on your appointment as President Obama's Science Advisor and Director of OSTP. As you probably know, this committee has long had a close and productive working relationship with OSTP.
I hope and expect that relationship to continue under your leadership in the new administration and I really look forward to working with you. I've heard good things about you and I haven't listened to any bad things about you and I hope I don't hear any bad things from you today.
Today's hearing obviously covers a great deal of ground and I make just a few brief comments on the budget that the President delivered to us last week, one positive, one negative and one that's a big question mark.
First of all the positive. Dr. Holdren, I want to commend you and President Obama for continuing the commitment initiated by President Bush in the committee of the 109th Congress and enacted by the last Congress in the America Competes Act and to double funding in key areas of basic research, most important innovation in long-term economic competitiveness.
Now, this has long been a priority of mine and of many of us here and certainly our good Chairman, as well as others on the committee, so for you to pick up where the last administration left off, truly cements this, I think, as an issue with deep bipartisan support and that's what I think the President's looking for.
This will undoubtedly make our goal of achieving a doubling significantly easier.
Now, second, the negative. I'm very concerned about the direction of our human space flight program at NASA. While NASA has made tremendous progress over the last five years, it's still on a path to retire the space shuttle without having developed its replacement vehicle and launch capabilities.
Whether the budget reduces the out year funding for the Constellation system by more than $3 billion and even though we're more than 100 days into this administration, the President has still not appointed a head of NASA. I'm sure he has his reasons for that, but it seems to me that we need someone to start working with and to start trying to see if we can't have a bipartisan thrust.
Dr. Holdren, I recognize and appreciate that you've order a review of human space flight plans and I commend you for tapping Norm Augustine. My gosh, what a terrific American and how you got him to do that. I think you pleased everybody that knows anything about him and you got him to head that review, but I have to register my strong concern with both the budget gap and the leadership gap at NASA and I hope you'll work to close both as soon as possible.
Third, the question mark. As we all know, just two weeks ago President Obama announced to great fanfare a goal to devote, quote, more than 3 percent of our gross domestic product to research and development, unquote. This is an aggressive goal that warrants full consideration by this committee and others.
Unfortunately though, the budget and testimony before us today includes no mention of it whatsoever, so I hope to learn from Dr. Holdren, from you, the details of how and when the administration plans to achieve this goal, especially since the President's R&D Budget request for next year is essentially flat.
Last, I want to take the opportunity to reiterate my concerns with the direction the President has taken us on energy policy, which of course includes a significant S & T component, which this committee is involved and the chairman and I are both on committees that are heavy on energy, we're a Science, Space, and Technology and the Energy and Commerce committee.
From actively opposing expanded energy exploration and production to cutting funding, the fossil fuels R&D to aggressively pursing increased taxes through a cap and trade regime, the costs of which are massive a certain, while the benefits are minimal and highly uncertain, I'm afraid the new administration has come out of the gate with this energy policy on backwards.
Dr. Holdren, I know you're going to be a key player at the White House informing and advancing this policy as we go forward, so I'm eager to work closely with you to identify some areas where we can work together. I don't know any other way than to be plain with you and maybe I can even help to change your mind on a few things. I hope so.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for holding this hearing. I think. I believe I do and I look forward to a productive discussion. Yield back.
REP. GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Hall. I have found you very persuasive.
Now, Dr. Holdren must have a very large hat rack because he is the assistant to the President for Science and Technology. He's the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and he's co-chair of the President's council advisors on Science and Technology.
So we welcome you here. Typically we have our witnesses speak for about five minutes. You are the only witness, so we're here for you. You take the time that is necessary and we will have your written testimony made a part of the record, and so, Dr. Holdren, you'll now be able to begin.
DR. JOHN P. HOLDREN: Well, thank you, Chairman Gordon, and Ranking Member Hall, members of the committee. It is a pleasure to be here today to talk with you about the President's budget for Research and Development for the 2010 Fiscal Year and certainly I appreciate those opening remarks, both by the Chairman and the Ranking Member.
Before I get to some details of the budget proposals for R&D for this year, I want to mention the wider array of initiatives in the domain of Science, Technology and Innovation that this administration has gotten under way its first few months in office.
Those initiatives all stem from the President's conviction, which I know the members of this committee share, that nourishing and fully utilizing this countries world leading capabilities in Science, Technology, and Innovation is going to be key to mastering practically every major challenge that we face, from creating new and better jobs for economic recovery and growth and providing improved health care for all Americans at lower cost, to reducing dependence on energy imports while also reducing the carbon pollution that is affecting Earth's climate, to assuring that we always have the defense, Homeland Security, and national intelligence technology that we need to protect our groups, our citizens and our national interests.
The President has been clear from the beginning of his campaign for the office about his understanding of the importance of science, technology and innovation for meeting these national challenges and he's been clear about his commitment to providing the resources, the incentives and the ground rules that science, technology, and innovation will need in order to realize that potential.
The initiatives that the administration is already taking based on that insight to advance science, technology, and innovation in this country are much broader than the increases in R&D budgets to which I'm shortly going to turn. Those initiatives include the executive order and associated pending guidelines on federally funded stem cell research, the executive order and associated pending recommendations on scientific integrity in government.
They include making permanent the research and experimentation tax credit, a range of energy, science, and technology initiatives that are aimed at building a clean energy economy that creates green jobs, shrinks our dependence on foreign oil, and reduces the impact of climate change. They include an equally wide range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education activities, including the use of the clean energy challenge as a way to inspire interest in science and technology among young people in much the same way as the space race did in the 1960's.
They include increased coordination of inter agency efforts on earth observing satellites, climate change science and climate services and they include a major effort in support of the Presidents executive memorandum on open government. All of these initiatives and some more are elaborated in my written statement.
Now, I would like to offer some thoughts on the science, technology, and innovation components of the President's FY 2010 budget proposal, the details of which were released as the chairman mentioned just under a week ago.
The new budget proposes 147.6 billion current dollars for the total federal investment in research and development in Fiscal Year 2010, which under OMB is assumed 1.1 percent inflation rate from 2009 to 2010 would mean a drop of about seven-tenths of a percent below the 2009 omnibus in real spending power. But two elaborations are important here.
One is that all of the real decrease and more is accounted for by a drop in the development part of defense R&D involving termination of some programs Secretary Gates has concluded have poor prospects or low utility.
The second and more important elaboration is that the real magnitude of federal R&D budgets for FY 2009 and FY 2010 can only be judged with the inclusion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and that funding added an estimated $18.3 billion for R&D in FY 2009 dollars to be spent mostly over those two years, nearly all of it on the non-defense side.
There's no year-by-year allocation of those funds currently available, but it's clear that their addition to the approved regular budget for 2009 and the proposed one for FY 2010 would give those two years the two largest federal investment in R&D in United States history.
The FY 2009 and 2010 budgets give particularly good attention to research as contrasted with development with the aim of bolstering the fundamental understandings that are at the route of all innovation and fostering significantly new and potentially transformative technology.
As with R&D as a whole, if the President's budget is enacted, the two years, 2009 and 2010, will provide the largest federal investments in research in U.S. history. In achieving all of that, the President's 2010 budget and what came before in the Omnibus Bill and the Recovery Act would fulfill a number of the important visions established by Congress in the America Competes Act, which the Ranking Member mentioned, that of course could not have become law without this committee's strong leadership.
The passage of the 2010 budget, the combined 2009, 2010, and Recovery Act appropriations will, in fact, meet the 2009 and the 2010 America Competes Act authorizations for NSF, DOE science, and NIST and as you know the America Competes Act authorizations extend to 2011, and we certainly look forward in OSTP to working with Congress next year on reauthorizations for these importance science agencies.
My written testimony elaborates on the research and development and science, technology, engineering and math education budgets for NSF, NIS, NIH, NASA , NIST, NOAA, DOE, EPA, the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, and Department of Defense as well as on the budget of OSTP. It also discusses the funding and focus of inter agency initiatives on networking and information technology R&D, the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the Climate Change Science program.
Without trying to summarize that material now, though, let me move to my conclusion.
While the nations faces immense challenges in the economy, health, energy, the environment, national a homeland security among other domains, it's clear that science, technology, and innovation can help turn many of those challenges into opportunities. The President understands this thoroughly and his FY 2010 budget reflects that understanding in proposing of robust investment in science, technology, and STEM education today to produce the new knowledge, the new technologies, and the scientists, engineers, mathematicians and science and technology literate citizens that our country will need in the future to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities.
I look forward to working with this committee to make the vision of the President's FY 2010 budget proposal into a reality and I will be pleased to answer any questions the members may have.
Thank you very much.
REP. GORDON: Thank you, Dr. Holdren, and thank you particularly, you and the President, for your commitment to America Competes. We do think it is good legislation.
But let me give sort of a game plan for everyone here if you feel comfortable with it. In about probably 40, 45 minutes we're going to have the final votes of the day. It will be probably be a series of at least two. It could be more, and so I think we will conclude at that time. I know people have flights they want to catch. We will also give an open invitation for Dr. Holdren to come back and I'm sure we'll see him later, and to move forward I am going to waive my questions. I might reserve a little follow up on somebody's later and so, Mr. Baird, you are recognized for five minutes.
REP. BRIAN BAIRD (D-WA): I thank the Chairman very much.
Dr. Holdren, welcome. Congratulations. We are delighted by you appointment and by your presence here today and I appreciate your acknowledgement of America COMPETES. Chairman Gordon worked so hard on that and we all appreciate his leadership on that.
Two quick issues I'd just like your input on. One is the role of oceans as you see it in our research portfolio and as we look at the effects of the overheating of the planet and acidification. Sixty- eight percent of the world's surface is oceans and they're under assault, as you know, from invasive species, over fishing, etc cetera. So comments on that.
Secondly, what do you see as the role of Social Science in the research portfolio? My perspective as a former social scientist is we look at energy, health care, national security and a host of other measures. Behavior change may be as important to solving some of those riddles as the technological innovation.
So let me put that out there and hear your response.
Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
DR. HOLDREN: Well, thank you.
First of all on the oceans, I think one can already see something about this administration's commitment on the importance of the oceans in the appointment of one of the world's leading marine biologists, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, as the new administrator of NOAA, and I suspect that Dr. Lubchenco has already been heard from before this committee or will otherwise will be soon.
I've talked with her extensively about the importance of the oceans. I agree with it. In my Presidential Address to the American Association of the Advancement of Science, I listed the oceans as one of the five major priorities in science and technology that we absolutely have to get right. It's important to everything.
You mentioned the role of the oceans in climate change, the acidification of the oceans. These are huge challenges. The country has got to address them in an integrated and unified and coherent way and I believe that between OSTP, NOAA, and the many other agencies that deal in various ways with ocean issues, we are going to start to get it right.
With respect to Social Science, I also agree with your point. I think the social behavior on economic sciences are crucial across the whole range of challenges I mentioned, and when I say the word science, I don't just mean Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and so on. I include the Social Sciences.
That effort in terms of research, of course, is extensively funded in the National Science Foundation, but there are also social, behavioral, and economic science research activities underway in a huge range of departments, even including the Department of Defense, but also Homeland Security, Department of Energy, precisely because you are correct in saying that these science domains are going to be critical to finding solutions to these problems.
REP. BAIRD: One other quick note, our committee has done a fair bit of work on the issue of science diplomacy, and Mr. Lipinski chairs the subcommittee which I formerly chaired and we are working with the Foreign Affairs Committee on -- we've already passed with the Chairman's support legislation to promote the scientific diplomacy within Department of State and NSCC, but I wonder if you could comment briefly on the role as you see science in diplomatic efforts?
DR. HOLDREN: I failed that IQ test. I've been involved myself in international science diplomacy since the beginning of the 1970's. I think it's extremely important. I think it provides important avenues of communication even when other aspects of relations are challenging. I think it contributes to the U.S. national interests in a wide variety of ways and certainly we need to be nourishing and expanding it.
Since the time I was confirmed on March 20th, which was the moment I became able to meet with representatives of other countries, I've had the chief science advisors to Heads of State in governments of about eleven countries come through my office talking about things that we could do together to improve science and technology cooperation between the United States and these other countries.
I've had the ambassadors of at least six countries in my office since being confirmed, and I'm spending a lot of time down at the State Department, working with the folks there on how to advance this agenda.
REP. BAIRD: Excellent.
With that, I thank the Chairman, and would yield back for the interest of my colleague --
REP. GORDON: Mr. Baird, you have about a minute left so let me just as a follow up to that.
What do you see the relationship between OSTP and the State Department in this area?
DR. HOLDREN: I think it's the responsibility of OSTP to work with all of the other departments in the Executive Branch as well, of course, as working with the Congress on every area in which science and technology play a role and certainly science and technology play --
REP. GORDON: I'm talking about international cooperation with the State Department having a specific vest right now, I guess you would say. What do you see the relationship between OSTP and that vest in the State Department?
DR. HOLDREN: Well, the way that's working is we're meeting regularly down there and at OSTP. Folks from the State Department are coming to OSTP. I'm going down there with my colleagues we are --
REP. GORDON: What should they do and what should you do --
DR. HOLDREN: -- about how to get it done.
Well, the State Department has the responsibility for orchestrating our international interactions and in that sense what OSTP is, is a provider of insight about the science and technology content of those interactions and as a facilitator because we have many contacts of our own that we make the State Department aware of so they can decide how best to orchestrate the overall interaction. The orchestration is their responsibility contributing to it and the science and technology domain is ours.
REP. GORDON: Good. Thank you.
Mr. Hall, you are recognized for five minutes.
REP. HALL: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Rohrabacher, has I think two other committee's he's supposed to be attending now. I want to let him go ahead and I'll stand in his position to speak.
REP. GORDON: Without objection.
REP. Hall: Thank you.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA): Thank you very much and welcome aboard and we look forward to working with you. You're talking about international cooperation. Just one note. Those of us who have been around here a long time realize that one area that we have had cooperation in internationally and an area that can be expanded upon, deals with cooperation in space technology and space endeavors.
We have challenges that have not been addressed internationally, although I have spoken to the leaders of various space agencies in Europe and in Russia and various parts of, well, Japan and they are very cognizant of the fact that we do not have a strategy right now to either clear space debris or deal with near-earth objects that may at some time be identified as a threat to the planet. So I might note that I'll be looking forward to working with you and the administration to see how we can set up better cooperation internationally on these two vital areas that this really needs some work.
Another area I'd like to point out to you is that while you are focused on science and technology issues, there are some legal issues that go directly to America's competitiveness in our ability to remain a technological leader in the world and one is the patent issue which does not go through this committee, but there will be a patent bill on the floor within the next few months, and let me just note, this bill, like the many bills before it in the last ten years is a bill that has been put together by very powerful special interests in this society, namely, some fifteen mega corporations who are international corporations who are trying to destroy the patent system.
They no longer want to pay royalties to the little guy and these co-corporations have continually been brought to court as infringers and they're just trying to change the whole structure. The little guy can't enforce his patents and that's a very important segment of America's success is the strong patent protection that we've had.
One last issue is again back to space. The Chinese now, and I understand this administration is leaning in that direction, are trying to break into the space launch market. If you want to deal a death blow to America's high tech industry in terms of aerospace, especially the space rockets and missiles, let the Chinese get involved in taking the technology they stole from us ten years ago and using against us as competitors in the world market.
Those are just three things that I thought I would throw in your direction. If you have any comment, go right ahead.
DR. HOLDREN: Thank you very much. I'll make brief comments on each of those points.
First of all, I very much agree with you that both space debris and near-Earth objects are important issues that are not being fully attended to at the moment and we need to get organized to do that. We do propose to stand up as space council again and have it address some of these tough questions. We've got some people's on the President's council of advisors on science and technology who are experienced in space and interested in those issues and I've spoken with the Acting NASA Administrator, Chris Scolese, who is also interested in getting better organized to address those particular problems. I'm sure the new NASA administrator, who we hope to name soon, will share those concerns.
On the patent issues, intellectual property is clearly a big issue. It cuts across the science and technology domain, innovation, the economic domain. We have a new Chief Technology Officer, Annese Tropa (ph), who assistant to the president of at NCPO and also what we trust to be confirmed by the Senate as the Associate Director for Technology in OSTP. He's deeply knowledgeable about those issues and interested in them. I think there's going to be another appointment in the White House in this area.
REP. ROHRABACHER: If you and he could take a very close at that bill and figure out who's behind it and we've stopped them for about ten years now, but these are very powerful interests --
DR. HOLDREN: We will certainly be taking a look at that. This is not my personal domain, that is I cannot claim any expertise in patent law, but we do have folks on board who do and we're going to be working across the agencies, including with the NEC --
REP. ROHRABACHER: Thank you.
DR. HOLDREN: -- to try to get that right.
On the China issue, and China being in the launch business, I think it would probably be an overstatement to say the administration is leaning in the direction of facilitating that. In one interview I said, with respect to the gap in launch capability that we ought to look at China. I think looking at China is a long way from leaning toward doing any particular thing.
I'm well aware as is the rest of the administration that there are some down sides and big obstacles to working with China in that domain, but there also are some benefits even to looking at China in terms of the situation we're in terms of a gap in our complete dependence on the Russians during that gap. It's a little unsettling as well.
REP. GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher.
And thank you very much.
Mr. Miller is recognized by five minutes.
REP. BRAD MILLER (D-NC): Thank you, Dr. Holdren. I'm sure you know that this committee has been concerned with scientific integrity issues for some time and I applaud the statement of principles on scientific integrity that the administration has already issued. You all had said all the right things and I am confident that you will do all the right things as well, but a lot of times the same conduct may either support scientific integrity or attack it, depending on what the motive is, why you're doing it.
There may be perfectly good reasons to have some one sit in on a meeting between someone from the press and the scientists. It's not always a political minder (sic) there to intimidate. So I'm sure if you set as your purpose and convey throughout government that you want to support scientific integrity, that by itself will do a world of good.
One of the abuses of science has actually taken the form for a claim for a need to do more, we need to have more science. And you'll never find a scientist who will say we don't need to do anymore research, but that has been used as a pretext for inaction, and that's particularly through OIRA, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OND has been probably the agency that has done more to suppress scientific integrity or attack scientific integrity than any others.
And frequently as thy claim to need better and better science before acting at all, formaldehyde. There's, I'm sure you know, an Integrated Risk Information System, the IRIS System under EPA. There was an initial listing. That is now such an exacting process that with 700 new chemicals entering widespread commercial use every year the IRIS System is producing two new listings a year, but they are very carefully considered listings.
Formaldehyde was first listed in the seventies. It's been under review from the late eighties. EPA was preparing to revise their listing to say that we should look at formaldehyde exposure with much more alarm than our seventies review suggested and that was subjected to a review by the National Cancer Institute, and there's been talk of now needing a review by the National Academy of Sciences or the NCI's review.
Have you talked with Professor Sunstein about his view of science and the role of science and the need, at some point, to act on science without waiting for the answer to end all answers?
DR. HOLDREN: Thank you.
I guess I could be brief and say yes, on all counts, but I will answer in a little more detail.
First of all, on the scientific integrity issue generally, I agree with you in the implication that it's complicated terrain and sometimes in the name of science integrity one could do things that were not helpful, one could imagine situations in which that you suppose science integrity means that science is the whole answer to everything and that there is no proper place for values, politics, and other considerations.
None of us in the administration believe that. We understand that science is an input to policy making, but that other factors are always going to matter and science integrity doesn't mean that science has to be the determiner of all results and all circumstances.
We are doing a very careful job of trying to construct recommendations in response to the Presidents executive order, but have started with soliciting input from all of the departments, agencies and offices about what their current practices are, about what they think about what's working and what isn't, what their concerns are in respect to balancing the different considerations that have to enter into procedures, and practices, and guidelines. And we're going to shortly open that process up for public comment as well and I believe in the end that we will have a set of recommendations for the President on science integrity that will be both helpful and suitably balanced.
With respect to OIRA, the answer is, yes, I have talked to Professor Sunstein, who I think will prove to have a balanced position on this. We've actually exchanged a number of our writings. He's well aware of the need to act on imperfect information, because as we all know, information is never perfect. We never know as much as we would like. People in politics, of course understand that you're making decisions every day on the basis of incomplete information about the problems you none the less have to decide on.
People who say we don't have enough information to decide should understand that not to act is also to decide, to make a decision in the favor of the status quo. I think we're going to get that right. I think Cass Sunstein is a very smart and very reasonable person and whatever OIRA's shortcomings in the past have been, I would have confidence that he would move to fix them.
REP. MILLER: I know my time is close to having expired, but the need for more scientific exactness, yes, there's obviously always a need for that, but that was frequently used by OIRA as a pretext for inaction. They wanted not to act and they used a lack of scientific exactness, the need for more precision as a pretext for not acting. So, again, a lot depends upon what you're trying to do and what your motive is.
DR. HOLDREN: I agree, sir, that that has been a problem, and my point is not to deny --
REP. MILLER: Right.
DR. HOLDREN: -- that that is a real problem. It has been a real problem, but I believe we're going to move to fix it because this administration is not interested in using uncertainty as a pretext for inaction.
REP. GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Miller, and thank you for your leadership on the ONI subcommittee.
Mr. Hall is recognized for five minutes.
REP. HALL: I thank you.
Dr. Holdren, in my opening statement I eluded to President Obama's announcing a goal to, quote, devote more than 3 percent of our gross domestic product to research and development and I stated we don't have any further information on how the administration plans to meet this goal and I also stated that budget documents released by your office do not even mention it.
That might not have been completely fair with you so let me write you a letter to that effect and give you a chance to look at your records and give me an answer on that.
I would ask you something else while I have the time here, though.
In DOE's fossil energy R&D budget the administration has zeroed out the Oil Petroleum Technologies Program and recommended that the Ultra Deep Water -- you're familiar with that -- the Ultra Deep Water Provision is a provision I've tried to pass for ten years and I got it passed once and it died in the Senate. I think a year and a half ago we put it in the energy bill. I rode west with the President.
He signed it there with me watching him, and since then he tried to zero it out too. And I want to talk to you about that because I really do want you to look at that very closely and I'm giving you my reasons now.
Back in a hearing back in March of this committee, Secretary Chu stated in response to a question that I asked him of, I quote, the type of research that you just described, for example, improving your ability to recover oil from reservoirs, I think it's appropriate for the Department of Energy to be funding things like that. How do you explain this discrepancy?
And we're talking about five million for the Oil Technologies Program and why the Ultra Deep budge is fifty million a year, that amount of money, according to statute comes from funds generated from federal lease royalties and rents and bonuses paid by oil and gas companies and not from taxpayers.
I hope you'll understand it's not just a technology nor an energy bill. It's both technology and industry because we sought the aid of several universities. And I think it's just a little bit interesting that two of the universities that we sought aid from and are receiving aid from and are working with and are paying for aid is Stanford and MIT, where you have an (aero ?) Engineering and Theoretical Plasma Physics Degree from MIT or Stanford or both, so you know something about that and have probably been involved with it.
I hope you have because I think you're a fair guy and I think you know that if something were -- we have a provision where we pay to get technology to get energy up out of the basin and we can't get it to the top, but we buy technology that helps us get it to the top and we pay for that technology out of the energy we get and we don't get that energy if we don't get that technology.
We've got the technology and we need to get the energy at no cost to the taxpayers, and President Bush turned his back on it because he was getting some heat on thinking that they'd help the big majors (ph). The majors don't find stuff like that. They buy it from little people that look for it and find it.
This doesn't cost the taxpayers anything. We get energy that we wouldn't get if we didn't have that technology from not just Stanford and MIT but Penn State, University of South Carolina, University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State, and others, which -- I think fifteen or twenty that are working with us and are providing that technology that we need.
Please look at that very closely because it's going to come across your desk sooner or later to try to take a shot at that. President Bush took a shot at it. We turned him down on the floor, and I think most everybody on this committee here, Republicans and Democrats, voted against curtailing a facility like that that will help us get rid of our obligation to the Arab States and make us less dependent upon them and it doesn't cost our taxpayers anything.
I just don't see how anybody can turn their back on that. I implore upon you to look closely at it. I don't even ask you to comment on it now.
DR. HOLDREN: Congressman Hall, I will. I first have to say that as the Chairman said, you are a persuasive man.
This is not something that's been in my area of focus. I don't know the details of the history of it and I wouldn't presume to answer for Secretary Chu, but I will as you suggest take a look at it and become better informed about it so that when it comes across my plate I'll have something constructive to say.
I do also want to say just a word about the 3 percent target. We were not deliberately avoiding that issue --
REP. HALL: I didn't think you were.
DR. HOLDREN: -- in my testimony. The current level of R&D in the United States as a fraction of GDP is about 2.6 percent. Three percent would be above the peak of almost 2.9 that was reached at the height of the space race. Currently of the 2.6 percent or so that's going to R&D of GDP, about one-third of that is coming from the federal government, and about two-thirds is coming from the private sector, mostly in other smaller entities.
If you ask how do you get the 3 percent, there are two parts to that problem. One is how and where do you boost the federal contribution, and the other is how do you create the incentives to boost the private contribution.
We think we're already creating a good part of the incentive for the private contribution by making the research and experimentation tax credit permanent. If the President's commitment to spend $150 billion over ten years on clean energy technology is made a reality, that would actually be a very large down payment on getting the government's contribution up to the level it would need to make that target, but I'm happy to respond in more detail if you would like.
REP. HALL: Thank you.
REP. GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Hall.
Ms. Dahlkemper is recognized for five minutes.
REP. KATHY DAHLKEMPER (D-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Holdren, welcome. I come from an ag industry -- from an ag producing district and I'm on the Ag committee and so my question is regarding biomass and the EPA released a draft rule on the Renewable Fuels Standards Program. At the same time the President established a Biofuels Inter Agency Working Group, which will work with the National Science and Technology Council.
What kind of a role will NSTC play in developing and dealing with environmental sustainability of biofuels and will NSTC be monitoring the science around emissions of indirect land use, which I know there is a lot of concern about which are referring to the potential effects of the cultivation biomass on greenhouse gases?
DR. HOLDREN: Very good question.
First of all, the NSTC, which of course is the body managed by OSTP that tries to coordinate all the inter agency science and technology issues that arise, certainly will be deeply involved in this one. That means that the Department of Agriculture will be represented along with EPA, OSTP, DOE, and the other relevant agencies.
I've already had some conversations with all of them about this particular issue. It's an important one. It's a complicated one. Indirect land use is certainly part of it. There is a range of opinions about the state of science regarding indirect land use impacts of growing biofuels, that is under what circumstances would a U.S. tries to devote more of its agricultural land to biofuels create changes in land use elsewhere that themselves would have greenhouse gas implications.
That is something we will be looking at very closely. We'll be looking at the sustainability of biofuels as a general matter very closely. Again, it's one of those complicated issues in which we're going to have to exercise ourselves to get it right, but I believe we will ultimately get it right. I would not venture to predict a particular set of outcomes at this point, but it's on the table. It's going to be looked at in an inter agency way.
I've spoke with Secretary Vilsack about it as well as with Administrator Jackson and I think we'll succeed in working together to figure it out.
REP. DAHLKEMPER: I guess part of question is as we look at the Energy Bill in front of us, you know, soon, some time, where do you think that research is currently in terms of using it as we go forward with that initiative?
DR. HOLDREN: To answer that I think would be prejudging a bit, what we will be asking the appropriate subcommittee and the NSTC to figure out.
REP. DAHLKEMPER: Okay. Thank you.
I have a question that will stay on the subject of biomass.
In January of this year, the National Science and Technology Council committee on science in it's report which includes a five-year plan for the National Plant Genome Initiative and over the last several years biomass for energy production has become an area of focus for many Plant Genome Initiatives. We've also heard that some of the research is too focused on energy and not other characteristics of plants, which is drought resistance.
Do you think there's enough research on the multiple beneficial characteristics of plants?
DR. HOLDREN: My general impression is that we need to be doing more there. I, myself have given talks about adaptation to climate change which stress the importance of developing crops that are heat resistant, that are drought resistant, that are salt resistant.
Again, without claiming deep expertise in that domain, my impression is that we need to be doing more.
REP. DAHLKEMPER: Okay. Thank you.
I yield back.
REP. GORDON: Mr. Olson is recognized.
REP. PETE OLSON (R-TX): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And, Dr. Holdren, welcome to committee. I appreciate your testimony today.
All of my questions are going to focus on NASA and the future of our human space flight program. As a member of Congress who is fortunate to represent the Johnson Spacecraft Center, the home of our human space flight program, I can tell you there's a lot of consternation and concern over its future, getting an administrator appointed.
And in your written testimony, you listed eight of the most important scientific issues facing the administration. The future of American human space flight and the challenges NASA is facing is not among them.
We're now nearly four months into the administration and as a NASA administrator is yet to be named, much less nominated and confirmed. The administration has recently announced a blue ribbon task force to review our human space flight program without any indication as to what concerns the President has about our human space flight program that he feels warrant an independent review.
The GL listed the time of the space shuttle as one of the top ten issues facing this administration, that was administration wide, not just within OSTP. Now more than ever NASA needs leadership and an administration that is committed to our goals of reaching the moon by 2020 as a national priority.
My question to you is where does the administration prioritize human space flight and where do you see the role of your office in giving priority to NASA's and our nation's human space flight program?
DR. HOLDREN: Thank you, Congressman.
Let me start by saying that the positioning of NASA in the testimony was not in those items briefly listed at the beginning, which are initiatives that we already have well under way, but there is a big treatment of NASA in the middle in which we talk about, among other things, the President's emphatic commitment to a continuation of the human space flight program and its importance.
I might mention that the president has demonstrated his interest in that program in a number of ways. We had a terrific event, when in the previous shuttle flight our astronauts were on the international space station and we orchestrated a video link from the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House, the president surrounded by middle school science students and a number of members of Congress with close links to the space program talking with the astronauts.
When the astronauts came back, by the way, I was able to introduce them to the president in the Oval Office. This was just about a week ago. He is absolutely enthusiastic about space and about the manned space flight, the human space flight component of that. He lights up every time space is on the agenda.
As you know, we have some challenges. Those include budget challenges. We're in a time of budget stringency. We're not able to do everything that we'd like to do across the domains, even the high priority ones, but the reason that we are standing up this blue ribbon panel chaired by Norm Augustine, is to take a fresh look at what options we have to maximize our capacity to do the things we need and want to do in the human space flight program in the face of the budget challenges that we confront.
That panel under Norm Augustine is being tasked with looking at what we can do to minimize the gap in the capacity to put Americans in space on American launchers. They're being tasked to look at the work force issues and the maintenance of capability between the end of the shuttle program and the beginning of the successor program. They're being tasked to look at the international space station and what we can do to extract more of the value from what we've already invested there.
These are all issues that are important to the President and the jobs issue that I know are of concern to all of the members of Congress who have districts in states in which there are major space flight activities. Those are very important to the President as well.
This President is not interested in losing jobs in this country at this point. He's interested in maintaining them and expanding them and one of the challenges to the Augustine panel is to try to help us figure out how to better do that under the constraints that we face.
REP. OLSON: Yes, sir, and jobs are certainly important, but it's critical that the United States maintains its leadership as the human space flight country. We've had it for over fifty years. We shouldn't give it up to any other country in the world.
About the blue ribbon panel, it sounds like then everything is on the table, they're going to be able to look at budgets, architecture, and overall direction of the program.
Is that a fair statement?
DR. HOLDREN: Well, it's close to a fair statement.
The current guidelines for review are to examine options that can be carried out within the budget trajectory laid out by the OMB in the FY 2010 request. If Norm Augustine and his panel conclude that something needs to be said about the implications of that constraint, I expect it will be hard to keep them from saying it.
REP. OLSON: I'm out of time and I appreciate your answers. Thank you, sir.
REP. DONNA F. EDWARDS (D-MD): Thanks you, Mr. Olson.
REP. SUZANNE M. KOSMAS (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Dr. Holdren, for being here today and thank you for the opportunity to be on the conference call with you earlier.
I come from Central Florida and Kennedy Space Center happens to be in my district so I am echoing many of the comments said by Congressman Olson and express my deep concern for the potential job losses there.
Having said that, we are happy to hear you reiterate that the President is, as he told me, a space guy and that he's very interested and enthusiastic about the manned space program.
Your comments say that you're fully aware that nourishing and fully utilizing the country's world leading capabilities in science, technology, and innovation are what makes us a great country and you also refer to the sixties space race and I assume that I can put those together and suggest that you and the administration do want to see us continue to be the number one country in manned space exploration.
Having said that, again, I register some of the concerns earlier mentioned and wanted to ask a couple of questions specific again to space exploration.
Recent documents show that we might not be able to meet the goal of returning to the moon by 2020 and Acting Administrator Scolese has stated that the review board will be examining the first 2014 goals including plans for going to the moon and to Mars.
Can you tell us what the vision is for the goals of human space exploration and its importance to this administration? Do you know what the vision is at this point?
DR. HOLDREN: Well, I can answer part of that question.
First of all, the vision is in agreement with your comments and the previous ones that U.S. leadership in space is critical and that we need to maintain it.
Second part of the vision is we need a balanced program in space, has to include the human space flight component. Robotic exploration of space is important too, but we need both, and in fact, we need a larger balance within NASA that includes space exploration, earth observation, fundamental science, aeronautics, and more, and one of the difficulties that we face is that in the last administration there was a grand vision for human exploration of space, but the budget was never provided to achieve that vision and the absence of the budget to achieve the vision led indeed to raiding a number of the other budgets within NASA to try to get on that trajectory, still not successfully, because there wasn't enough money to be raided in those other pots to really get on on the trajectory to achieve the vision that President Bush had articulated.
And so, we're starting where we are, unfortunately, in terms of the gap between our aspirations and our means, and what that blue ribbon panel headed by Norm Augustine has as its primary challenge is figuring out how to reduce the gap between our aspiration and our means.
I can't prejudge what they will find in terms of what our options are for reducing that gap, but I can assure you, being myself an old friend and colleague of Norm Augustines, that if anybody can figure out the best approaches available to us, it will be that panel and we will be, I think announcing the names of the other panelists shortly. They're in bedding (ph) now, but it's going to be a very impressive group.
REP. KOSMAS: Thank you for that answer.
I think there are many of us who are acutely aware of the fact the the budget to go with the vision never matched in the past and that that has to some degree put us in the situation where the potential for a gap is huge and could be very devastating in terms of job retention.
Having said that, the recent announcement that the Russians intend to charge us now $51 million per seat, which is significantly greater over the last couple of years than what we originally anticipated, do you perceive that there might be some change in our position on being reliant on the Russians or use for a manned space flight to the international space station?
DR. HOLDREN: I know there have been very recent negotiations with the Russians about the terms of our access and I'm not aware of anything up until now that indicates that we're looking at fundamentally changing that relationship. It does, when the price goes up very rapidly, indicate the perils of monopoly, and again, I think at least starting to think about other options could have some benefits in that domain but we certainly have no plans at the moment to go in a different direction.
REP. KOSMAS: Thank you.
I think the suggestion that we would be paying the Russians to fly our astronauts there at this time of critical economic crisis within our own country is hard for many people to swallow and the potential also to lose our professional work force during that five- year gap is also a very serious problem in my district and so I hope that we will take a very close look at what our options are there.
REP. EDWARSDS: Ms. Kosmas?
REP. KOSMAS: Yes.
REP. EDWARDS: I'm going to interrupt you just a bit because we're going to be called for a vote and members are welcome to submit their additional questions for the record and I want to go ahead to Mr. Lipinski.
REP. KOSMAS: Thank you.
REP: EDWARDS: Thank you.
REP. KOSMAS: Thank you, Dr. Holdren.
REP. DANIEL LIPINSKI (D-IL): Thank you. I will try and keep this short.
But it's great to have you here, Dr. Holdren. Congratulations. I look forward to working with you, especially as chairman of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee. There's a lot of good things that I know we'll be doing in the next few years, especially looking forward to working on NSF reauthorization.
I wanted to ask you about the energy innovation hub. I'm very happy about the President's commitment to transformative energy technology. It's great to see that commitment there, that enthusiasm.
My understanding is the energy innovation hubs are inspired by the excessive legacy of industrial labs, like Bell Labs. Unfortunately, we don't see those anymore, but I want to ask do you see these hubs being located in industrial, academic, or national lab settings, and the second part is what culture do you think would be best for technology transfer which is always a critical issue that we are facing?
DR. HOLDREN: Thank you for those questions. They're good ones.
I think first of all the energy innovation hub's notion is not to build entirely new institutions, not more bricks and mortar, but to use existing institutions in innovative ways to promote energy innovation. In my judgment, they'll probably be located in a couple of different kinds of settings. Some may be academic. Some national lab. Maybe some industrial. I think the most important thing is that they involve partnerships among all of those sectors.
We should be using the resources, the insights, and the perspectives of the academic community, the private community, the national laboratories together and when you talk about technology transfer, that underlines the importance of having the private sector intimately engaged because it is the private sector that has the best understanding of the markets in which these technologies ultimately have to work if they're going to succeed.
So I believe that as a historical matter, we have under utilized the potential of partnerships of these sorts and I think the innovation hubs definitely have an opportunity to begin to rectify that.
REP. LIPINSKI: I actually agree with you that working with the partnerships and encouraging the partnerships is really critical and that's something I look forward to working with you on, doing what we can to do more to encourage that.
One other question I wanted to ask you -- well, first of all I wanted to say as a former social scientist, I received a Political Science Dissertation Improvement grant when I was in grad school.
I was just a little disappointed that the directorate for social behavior of Economic Sciences had recommended in the budget the smallest increase and I know that all six of the directorates were equally funded -- equally treated, I should say -- in the Recovery Act.
But what I'm more concerned about right now, it's great to see all this funding going to NSF in the Recovery Act. My concern is what happens next after that funding is gone and you rightly said we have to consider not just what's budgeted right now but also what was in the Recovery Act.
But happens next? What happens when we get to 2011?
DR. HOLDREN: First of all, we share your concern about the potential boom and bust characteristics of funding research if you have a big infusion like the Recovery Act and then it goes away and what do you do, so there are a couple of approaches to that and we're trying to work them all.
One is to get the baseline budgets up so that when the Recovery money runs out you don't have a big plunge in the money that's available. The second thing is to have some of that Recovery Act money go into multi-year grants where it doesn't all have to be spent in the two years in question and it has to go out the door in a sense of commitment, but the money in terms of the research that is done can be extended over a longer time.
Another aspect of it is putting some of that money into facilities and equipment that don't lose their utility and their value at the end of the Recovery Act period.
All three of those strategies are being employed to try to minimize any boom and bust characteristic. Ultimately we remain committed to the president's goal of doubling the NSF budget over a fairly short period of time and we think that ramping up will take care of an important part of this problem.
REP. LIPINSKI: I also look forward to working with you. Thank you.
DR. HOLDREN: Thank you.
REP. EDWARDS: Thank you, Mr. Lipinski.
And I recognize Dr. Ehlers for five minutes.
REP. VERNON J. EHLERS (R-MI): Thank you, Madam Chair, and I congratulate you on your rapid ascension to the chair of this committee. I've been here fifteen years and I still didn't -- (Laughing.) -- and you did it in fifteen months or less.
Dr. Holdren, good to see you again. Congratulations on your appointment. I was overjoyed when you received the appointment from the President. He's done a lot of good work for this country in various tasks that have been placed in your lap and I'm sure you will do very well in this job too. So accept that in the spirit in which it is offered. You may not receive very many compliments as things go along. You know how that goes.
I just wanted to raise an issue about the National Science Foundation in the overall budget going up I believe something like 8.5 percent, which we're all delighted about. I personally worked very, very hard to get NSF increased over the years.
My concern is this EHR, Education and Human Resources, which has the lowest increase, about one and one-half percent. I spent a good share of my life both before the Congress and in the Congress trying improve, math, science education in this country. We are making substantial progress.
The NSF budget under the previous administration at a certain point someone in R&D apparently decided that since we had started doing the math and science program in the education department, that NSF no longer needed any money, so they zeroed out that portion of the NSF budget.
We fought very hard to get it back in. We got some increase but it took quite a jolt that year and it has never recovered.
I was hoping that under this administration that would be changed and that the Education and Human Resources would get an increase comparable to the total overall increase in NSF's budget and I would appreciate your comments on that or your explanation.
DR. HOLDREN: Well, Congressman Ehlers, first of all thank you for your kind remarks at the beginning. I'm going to bottle those and save them for the glimmer moments.
I have sometimes said that this job I've taken on is mostly like a drink from a fire hose, except when it's a drink from a flame thrower and I do expect to experience a good deal of the latter as well as the former.
On the NSF EHR funding recommendations, one of the things I would say about that is that in recent years the pattern of how education gets supported at NSF has changed in the sense that across virtually all of the directorates, education is explicitly a part of the mandate. So it's not just concentrated in EHR anymore.
All across the agency, grantees are being asked to develop education components of whatever it is they're working on. It makes it harder to determine easily exactly how much money and effort is going into education at NSF, but my sense of things is that the NSF leadership as well as the administration are very strongly committed to advancing the STEM education, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education through that agency and others.
We're committed to tripling the number of NSF graduate fellowships over a period of three or four years. We are advancing STEM initiatives through the Department of Education, which you mentioned as well as other dimensions. So I'm basically optimistic.
We have a big challenge there as you very well know in terms of how far we have to go in listing the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education from Pre-school to Graduate School. But we're committed to doing it. I think we're going to get it done with the help of folks like you and the rest of this committee.
REP. EHLERS: Well, I appreciate the comments and the reassurance. And I was aware of that. In fact, it is expanding across the various agencies and departments within NSF, but to have the overall drop 1.5 percent, there still needs to be a lot of direction from that central direction to this issue and I can say that having spent so many years in it, it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and I would worry about not having adequate direction, a centralized direction as to what the various departments or groups or agencies or what have you will do them.
I'm also very concerned about working with the Department of Education. That was sort of an add on in the last few years of of the Bush Administration and I very much appreciate what was done there, but I don't think they really had the time and the personality to devote to that effort what it really needs, and you're the logical one to bring that all together and make sure that the Department of Education is on the right track, vis-a-vis NSF, and also I would hope you can assist in getting additional money for EHR.
I'm not that worried about the Graduate Fellowship Program where you've got the K-12 education apart which is where we are really failing as a nation and I have many more ideas on this and I'd be delighted to meet you later on and discuss them as to what we can do, what we should be doing, not just in NSF, but since you have a very broad portfolio, I'm sure you can have an impact in many areas on that topic.
REP. EDWARDS: Thank you, Dr. Ehlers.
I'm next in order, actually, in this list and so I'm going to pretend that I'm down the line. I just will only use the time just to share with you that I represent a district that also services Goddard Space Flight Center and worked at the space program for a time, and I have to tell you my concern when looking both at the budget and the goals is that the budget doesn't quite match the goals, especially in the out years for the space program, and so I'm looking forward to hearing more from you about how you see where manned space flight, human space flight fits into NASA's long-term goals, how we meet the goal of getting to the moon in 2020 given the budget.
I'm also concerned, Dr. Holdren, it seems that we see an increase in the budget for Fiscal Year 2010, then slight decrease, and then, you know, essentially kind of flat line, but increased responsibilities, and so I look forward to a review that enables us to have a budget for NASA that really matches the goals, rather than expectation for the agency that it can't possibly meet given the budget
And I will express another concern and allow you an opportunity to respond to it, but it is that, you know, we're in the process of a review being conducted on human space flight but we don't have an administrator and that review is due by August and so I hope that it will be conducted with the kind of leadership we need to make sure that we're operating off of results that really match the future needs of the agency.
And we've just been called for a vote --
REP. GORDON: Ms. Edwards, if you will yield just a moment. I think we have at least ten minutes and so let's try to continue. I'd like --
REP. GORDON: You know let's try to allow everybody to have a chance to speak.
REP. EDWARDS: Absolutely. And Mr. Chairman come on back down and take your -- (Laughing).
DR. HOLDREN: May I just say that number one, I think it is a perception that there is a mismatch between budget and goals, which is one of the drivers of calling for this review in saying how are we going to deal with this and I'm certainly looking forward to the results of that review as much as anybody.
I also have some reason for optimism that the President will be nominating a permanent administrator for NASA very shortly and that that will put at least that concern to rest, because I think it will be an outstanding person. The President's concern has been to get the right person for that job. The fact that we don't have one until now is not for lack of effort.
REP. GORDON: Ms. Edwards, do you have any other follow up?
REP. EDWARDS: Thank you. I'll yield, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GORDON: Thank you Ms. Edwards.
And Mr. Tonko is recognized for five minutes.
REP. PAUL D. TONKO (-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Dr. Holdren, your appointment was tremendously positive news and I thank you for your willingness to serve.
My question is on green buildings, and as you know last October when the National Science and Tech Council issues its report on net zero energy and high performance buildings, there was a lot of R&D that they focused on.
Obviously our buildings are our major concern out there as it relates to energy policy, but also a major bit of solution.
So just how do you see the coordination with DOE and other agencies including where you sit, how all of that is going to come together and how we're going to invest to getting to that green building goal?
DR. HOLDREN: A couple of points, Congressman Tonko. First of all, I agree with you about the importance of the building sector. There's tremendous opportunity there for big improvements in energy efficiency and big gains there for both in terms of energy supply and environmental impacts, and I come from a long background in the energy field where I started the interdisciplinary energy program at UC Berkeley in 1973 at the same time that Art Rosenfeld was starting the Building Energy Program at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab adjacent to the campus.
And I mention that because Art Rosenfeld is now an energy commissioner in the State of California and remains one of the leading experts on how you get this stuff done in the building sector and he's been pursuing a number of innovative approaches including the White Roofs Approach that reduces the energy use in the building in the summer by reflecting more of the sunlight that would otherwise be overheating the building and also addressing in the process some of the global climate change issue.
We have big opportunities there. The other asset I would mention is Dr. Steve Chu, the new Secretary of Energy who is deeply knowledgeable, having been the director of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab among other things, deeply knowledgeable about the potential of technology in this area and also a good friend of mine. We probably speak five or six times a week.
So I'm not particularly worried about our ability to coordinate approaches to these challenges in the energy domain between OSTP, the Department of Energy, and I should mention that Secretary Donovan in Housing and Urban Development is also much seized with the importance of this issue and is himself meeting regularly with Secretary Chu, and with me and with others to figure out how to get this done in an inter-agency way.
REP. GORDON: Mr. Tonko, if you don't have just a really burning question, or if you need to follow up, do that, and then let's try to have maybe one question a piece for those that are left.
REP. TONKO: I'll just make mention that I'm sort of where I was just before this stop. People were thrilled with your work and we're looking forward with anticipation. Thank you.
REP. GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Tonko.
Mr. Luján, for one question if that's okay?
REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN (D-NM): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If I may as opposed to asking a question if I could just make a couple quick points, Dr. Holdren. I'm really happy to be working with you, sir.
A few concerns. One area is in the reduction in the area of cleanup of legacy waste from weapons production. Recognizing that I was very supportive of the increase associated and contained in the Recovery Act, but we do have a certain responsibility not only in and around our laboratories, but also in some of the areas where some mining did take place, i.e., the Navajo Nation in the State of New Mexico.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Holdren, I want to encourage you as we look to utilize some of the investment that we're going to be making in energy supply and conservation, specifically the area of energy storage, that we look to some of our energy frontier research centers, one of which is Los Alamos National Laboratories where we're going to be taking seriously our responsibility in the area of storage and will continue to encourage you to work with our national laboratories to be able to identify solutions to our nation's problems.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GORDON: Thank you very much, Mr. Loján, and I want to remind everybody that you can also submit questions to this.
So, Mr. Peters?
REP. GARY PETERS (D-MI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Holdren, just a quick question. I'm from Michigan, and of course manufacturing is under a great deal of stress right now, particularly our small manufacturers and I want to ask a question regarding the manufacturing extension partnership which you oversee.
Currently, in order to pay for these centers, one-third of the cost comes from the State, a third from the Federal Government, and a third from manufacturers, but given the significant financial difficulties both of the small manufacturers in the areas as well as the budget short falls of the State of Michigan as well, would the administration be open to revising some of these cost structures with the MEP?
As you know, it provides a very, very valuable function and it is essential for us to maintain our competitiveness in the manufacturing sector, but given the financial meltdown that is occurring in Michigan with the auto industry, it is critical that we maintain that but it also is putting a stress both on the small manufacturers as well as the state.
How would you respond, please?
DR. HOLDREN: Well, I would say first of all I agree with you that the MEP is valuable and important and I'm not an expert on the details of what might or might not be possible in terms of renegotiating the terms, but I will certainly take that point back and bring it up with others in the Executive offices of the President who have those responsibilities and see what we can do.
REP. PETERS: I appreciate that. Thank you.
REP. GORDON: Thank you, Mr. Peters. I will quickly note that this committee has had strong bipartisan support for the MEP and we will continue to do that and we want to work with you as we authorize again.
Ms. Giffords, to close us out.
REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D-AZ): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Last but hopefully not least.
Those of us who have been on the committee for a long time -- I sound like a broken record. I talk about solar energy a lot. Come from Arizona where we have an abundance of sunshine. I was pleased to see the President's proposed budget for solar at 320 million which is a significant increase, but when I look at the potential, not just for the Southwest, but for the country, and even for the planet, it seems to me that if we're really going to transition to bring renewable energies, that needs to be reflected in the budget.
So, Secretary, if you could please just address how we can possibly continue to improve funding for solar and other types of renewable energies in light of the discussions that are happening around budget issues here.
DR. HOLDREN: Well, again, I would note that the President is committed to a large increase, this $150 Billion over ten years for clean energy technologies. Certainly a substantial chunk of that, when it materializes and I hope that will be soon, will go to solar energy.
There is, as you say, enormous potential there. It's one of the technologies where we really have the capacity to become leaders in the deployment and the development of advanced ways to harness sunlight, and I trust it's going to happen. We're going to have a substantial solar component in that much bigger clean energy research, development, and demonstration budget which is going to be coming down the road.
REP. GIFFORDS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I look forward to working with you on that.
REP. GORDON: Well, Dr. Holdren, I'm sorry we had to have an abbreviated hearing today. You have much to bring us. We are very interested in working with you and we will continue our conversation and I will say now that the record will remain open for two weeks for additional statements from members and for answers to all the follow- up questions that the committee may ask the witness and this witness is excused and the hearing is adjourned. Thank you.