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US Funding Five Game-Changing Energy Projects

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the I-want-my-water-car dept.

Power 529

coondoggie writes "Taking aim at developing some progressive energy technologies the US Department of Energy said it will write a $130 million check to develop five areas, including plants engineered to replace oil, thermal power storage, rare earth alternatives and what it calls the energy equivalent of an Internet router."

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Rare earth alternatives. (4, Funny)

drfreak (303147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925738)

Will Nikola Tesla please stand up? Oh wait, he's dead. Forget it.

Re:Rare earth alternatives. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925836)

Back in the day the Rare Earth scored Top-40 hits with "Get Ready" and "I just want to celebrate", but if you were looking for alternatives, the Temptations (who also did "Get Ready", as well as "Ball of Confusion") would be one.

Sam I am. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925774)

Wow, funding for green pork!

Re:Sam I am. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925954)

I thought "rare earth" metals were not so rare, but China is pretty much the only place mining them at scale. Instead of finding alternatives, why not just start mining? Wasn't there some in Canada, eh?

Re:Sam I am. (1)

hinesbrad (1923872) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926256)

I believe the largest sources found of the rare Earth minerals we needed were discovered in..... Wait for it...... AFGHANISTAN!

Re:Sam I am. (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926320)

So we could open mines there that could produce enough money to rebuild the entire country, pay for the war, and provide millions of low skilled Afghanistan workers jobs. Well we definitely won't do that, it just makes far too much sense.

Re:Sam I am. (2)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926360)

Yeah there you go, lets improve the quality of life in Afghanistan by putting them to work in the mines...

Re:Sam I am. (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926388)

Well then let them not work in the mines, I saw it as something they would wanna do. We could always let Americans work in the mines, they are plenty willing, and they live in the USA. There would still be plenty of profits left over to help them out.

Re:Sam I am. (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926330)

I thought "rare earth" metals were not so rare, but China is pretty much the only place mining them at scale. Instead of finding alternatives, why not just start mining?

China is the main source right now because they were selling it cheap. Now they're hanging on to it for their own industries and the price is rising. So it makes sense to reopen existing mines.

Wasn't there some in Canada, eh?

There's a bunch just West of Ely NV. And they're starting up a mining operation right now. Nice boost to the town's economy. (My wife and I noticed this when passing through there last fall.)

Until costs go down... (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925792)

Unlike Brazil, once prices went back down the US decided to drop all the programs from the 70s because. Hell, fuel was cheap! People have already forgotten 2008 and went out buying SUVs once again. Now they're complaining once again.

Re:Until costs go down... (4, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926184)

Which is why public policy should be directed to intercede. The public is short-sighted, like the markets that supply their fuel and "choose" which technologies to pursue. We can see the storm coming on the horizon, but when you've got so many people looking straight up, seeing the sun and proclaiming there's no danger it's hard to react to a future that many experts know is coming.

We can either make tough choices now that will lead to a somewhat painful but tolerable transition period, or wait and do the same things in haste and agony. The people saying we should do nothing are doing so mostly out of an ideological mistrust of government doing anything, but they are going to be very regretful when they realize the markets failed to see and prepare for a future that experts and government DID predict, and could have prevented or at least vastly reduced the severity of.

We are in for a bleak future, because a small section of society has a vested interest in doing nothing and they have fully convinced roughly half of us that doing anything about it is an affront to their liberty. They'll pay in the end, we all will.

Re:Until costs go down... (1, Troll)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926340)

Which is why public policy should be directed to intercede.

And do what? The ignorance in that statement is remarkable. Public policy is asked to spend vast sums of money, without understanding what the problems are.

The public is short-sighted, like the markets that supply their fuel and "choose" which technologies to pursue.

There we go. A system that works. Why squander our wealth on mandarins when we can encourage far sighted entrepreneurs to find solutions for us?

We can see the storm coming on the horizon, but when you've got so many people looking straight up, seeing the sun and proclaiming there's no danger it's hard to react to a future that many experts know is coming.

I like how the experts "know" the future is coming, they might even be right! I can't help but snort at the fantasy of the "storm on the horizon" coupled with your desire to use public policy to acknowledge your superstitions. This is the very essence of confirmation bias.

We can either make tough choices now that will lead to a somewhat painful but tolerable transition period, or wait and do the same things in haste and agony.

You obviously do not understand the merits of wait then act. And "haste and agony" is a common product of public policy. The Obama administration, for example, both has engineered a ban of incandescent lightbulbs and a ludicrous increase in the required gas mileage for auto manufacturers via CAFE.

We are in for a bleak future, because a small section of society has a vested interest in doing nothing and they have fully convinced roughly half of us that doing anything about it is an affront to their liberty. They'll pay in the end, we all will.

As long as we don't feed your delusions, it'll probably turn out ok. Freedom is important and we'll just need to make some sacrifices for that. Controlling the Earth's thermostat or whatever you think the problem is just isn't that important.

Re:Until costs go down... (4, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926366)

History will show who was right. I'm prepared to be judged for, in my zeal, doing too much. Are you prepared to be judged for doing too little?

Re:Until costs go down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926228)

There is no good reason why gas costs can't be cheap. We have a president who thinks its OK to bring us to the tipping point of $5/gallon gasoline to teach us a lesson with his fucked up ideas that we all need to be shared responsibility (read: SUFFERING)

The real problem here is the government subsidization program. We have an obesity epidemic because farmers had us hoodwinked that HFCS is just as good as sugar, and a health crisis because of it. The real solution would be to get off the tits of Middle Eastern oil dependence for fossil fuels and be using our corn strictly for our fuel.

Re:Until costs go down... (2)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926246)

So Obama's to blame for $4/gallon gas? Was Bush to blame the last time we had $4/gallon gas? BTW, no one is asking anyone to suffer. We can switch to alternative energy sources without anyone suffering at all. Using corn for fuel doesn't use energy wisely; it takes nearly as much energy or even more energy to make ethanol from corn as you get from the ethanol. Using corn for energy is a waste of energy.

Re:Until costs go down... (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926288)

The problem with HFCS is not so much what it is or how it's used but how ubiquitous it is in our food supply. It's probably in at least half of every food product the average person eats on a daily basis. It's not just the obvious sources like soda and sweet snacks; it's in ketchup, bread, orange juice, nearly anything that comes in a box or bag.

That being said, int he same store that you can buy those things are also food products that are safe and healthy and not for much more money. It's mostly a matter of being willing to prepare your own food and not rely so much on precooked and preprocessed sources. It's much easier to cook spaghetti with marinara with premade tomato sauce, but you could spend a few more minutes to make your own from tomatoes and spices. It's choices like that, we make them every day. We trade a few minutes, even a few seconds, of convenience for our health. It's slowly killing us, and people aren't going to stop doing it by themselves, sadly. Something has to stop them. I wish it could be a matter of education and personal choice but that's simply not going to work. We need a force strong enough to mandate that this junk is taken out of our food, and that starts with removing the influence of the corporations that produce those chemicals and additives on the government agency that is supposed to regulate what they get to put in our food.

I don't care if I'm called a communist or a fascist or a Nazi or whatever, government needs to have stricter control on what companies are allowed to put in food, because individuals making their own choices about what to buy are simply not punishing those companies enough for what they are doing to our health.

Re:Until costs go down... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926248)

Well, you have to remember, 2008 was fueled by hope and change and some people believe either is working.

It's called "market forces", dude. (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926274)

When fuel is cheap, and likely to stay that way, why invest a bunch of money developing more expensive energy sources that won't pay off for decades?

When existing fuels are about to get expensive it may make sense to develop these pricey alternatives - IF the fuels will STAY expensive once they're developed.

Of course no investor in his right mind will invest in the research if the government is going to hand out millions of bucks to their cronies so said cronies can take over the new market.

Such winner-picking handouts are what we've been seeing for a couple decades now in the renewable energy industries. This handout-to-cronies is just the latest example.

Want cheap energy alternatives to burning fossil fuels? Figure out how to make the government STOP handouts such as this, STOP putting regulatory barriers in the way of deployment, and make this hands-off behavior BELIEVABLE and DEPENDABLE for the decade or so it will take to devvelop, deploy, and profit from an oil replacement.

Re:It's called "market forces", dude. (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926302)

Because fuel keeps becoming more expensive. Because we obtain much of our fuel (oil) from an unstable part of the world. Because burning fossil fuels results in higher concentrations of greenhouse gasses and is acidifying the oceans. If we don't start investing in alternative energy sources until it becomes profitable, we'll be paying dearly for energy. Let's start investing now, so the price of alternative energy comes down and we can switch to them before energy prices skyrocket.

Re:It's called "market forces", dude. (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926378)

Let's start investing now, so the price of alternative energy comes down and we can switch to them before energy prices skyrocket.

My point is that, as long as the government does the investing - in the form of picking their cronies as the winners, we WON'T get private investment. Meanwhile government cronies on the dole put on a big show of doing the development but always manage to avoid bringing anything to market - unless it's to kill some competition for a while. Government programs like this just about ALWAYS fail.

WITHOUT the government winner-picking we'd likely ALREADY HAVE affordable alternatives. Investors are very good at figuring out where the money will be coming from in a few years and positioning themselves to sell whatever will get them some.

But they're ALSO good at figuring out that the government will steal some particular cash cow once it's giving milk. So when that's a big risk they don't breed it in the first place.

Re:It's called "market forces", dude. (4, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926354)

You're starting from the assumption that energy production and distribution should be, or must be, the domain of private enterprise alone. This isn't the only way things can work. It's simply too dangerous (look at Japan), dirty (look at the Gulf of Mexico), and important to put in the hands of a capitalist framework that is willing to cut corners to make more profit. I'd rather have the entire sector in control of an entity run by experts with the full resources of the nation at their disposal and no board of directors or shareholders to answer to but only the people, and the nation that they too are part of and wish to see prosper. There is no such thing as a patriotic corporation, nor a corporation interested in protecting the environment or public safety. To the extent that they do is only because they are compelled to by The State or public outrage--and the later only after some terrible calamity has stricken our geography or population.

Re:It's called "market forces", dude. (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926374)

There is something the government could do. They could force GM to release the Ovonics battery patent that they aren't using. This is really the only thing that could make a difference RIGHT NOW.

They could also provide small incentives to switch over to natural gas. The taxes made on profits from using natural gas could be used to pay for the incentives. Yes, it's a protectionist strategy, but I don't see anything wrong with being protective over the entire liquid fuel structure we rely on. They should do the same for any other locally produced alternative energy source for automobiles/trucking, it's revenue neutral and nonbiased, which is the only way not to distort the market in a negative way.

Good, but there is always an issue (5, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925798)

I love this R&D. We have a solid science base (in spite of the gutting of during the 80s and through the 00's). We have loads of inventions and developments. The problem is that we simply allow other nations esp China to simply take it. That has to stop. China has been subsidizing companies to go there, which is total bs. This R&D needs to require that any company picking it up remain in the USA with the tech. Simple as that. All of Asia does. All of EU does it. Only US and UK do not do this. We need to rebuild our own economy.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (5, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925854)

I particularly like the look of Green Electricity Network Integration (GENI) project; using the stuff we've learned about networking applied to the problem of power switching and monitoring. Electricity, once generated, is pretty much a "use it or lose it" proposition, so coming up with new ways to route the electric grid (particularly with peaky generation like wind) is a really great idea. Although, "up to" $30M to this project doesn't seem like a lot.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925862)

LOL what goes around comes around. Americans didn't get where they are without totally disrespecting intellectual property from europe during the industrial revolution. why should the chinese?

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925938)

LOL what goes around comes around. Americans didn't get where they are without totally disrespecting intellectual property from europe during the industrial revolution. why should the chinese?

Which we then used to build tanks, airplanes, submarines and battleships to defeat the Nazis.

Alright! We'll call it a draw.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925996)

Your high-school history teacher must be so proud.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926004)

LOL what goes around comes around. Americans didn't get where they are without totally disrespecting intellectual property from europe during the industrial revolution. why should the chinese?

Which we then used to build tanks, airplanes, submarines and battleships to defeat the Nazis.

Alright! We'll call it a draw.

Don't forget that we Americans stole the water wheel and helped kick start the industrial age. Imagine what the world would be like without the US stealing those things. I would dare to say the world's tech would be at least 20 years behind what it is currently.

The problem with the Chinese is simply that we (as consumers) do not like the lack of concern for safety that they have when producing goods that we use. If they had all the OSHA requirements, labor laws (actually enforced), property rights (actually enforced again) that the US has, they would be seen as fair competition and animosity would be a great deal lower. As a government, the US of A is not doing a great deal to protect the citizens from foreign markets, which is one of the government's primary purposes. Trade agreements suck when made shallowly. Need more tariffs to create desire for jobs in the US market instead of sending them elsewhere.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926278)

Are you implying that the Chinese should use their IP to defeat US imperialism?

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (1)

cyrus0101 (1750660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925864)

There is a balance to be struck between building a competitive economic/technological advantage and the actual point of the technology: developing a technology that can be leveraged to reduce the environmental costs of producing energy.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926002)

Don't confuse corporate welfare or a fascist economy for economically productive R&D. If such technologies can be profitably developed within our current regulatory economy, then entrepreneurs will create start-ups, and funders will give funding. This wasteful exercise of $130 million is a political, not an economic, decision, and rent-seekers with the closest ties to the government will satiate themselves at the public trough. If you want to rebuild the economy, the answer is not centralized planning or rent-seeking under a government unlawfully propping up its supporters with taxpayer money, but free-market competition under the same legal regime of equality under the law, absent political bribery and ransom.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (0, Troll)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926084)

Bullshit. Go back to the tea party idiot. You and your kinda are outright traitors to this nation and are responsible for the significant downturns in the US economy and standard of living of true American heroes (the working class) . You have sold the US out to the uber rich corporate elite and the nation of China. With your complete and utter religions jihad against anything remotely intelligent. You have no place in technical society and you have no place in American society. And now you are ranting against one of the few chances we have to pull this nation out of the ditch your stupidity has created. You are the enemy of the American people. Ya this is a troll but its damn worth it.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926114)

You, sir, are my hero.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926236)

Amen! Preach it brother! Down with Palin; vote for Stalin!

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (0)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926308)

They are many arguments for why "Communist Russia" fell and many of them have to do with Qualities of Stalin matching those of Bush and Palin. But to be honest you would not understand them. Which is why you are you. And we would not want it any other way would we? Why be informed when you can blindly follow what your preacher/McCarthy told you in the morning about the evil Russian empire and its love for unicorn blood.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926370)

Why be informed when you can blindly follow what your preacher/McCarthy told you in the morning about the evil Russian empire and its love for unicorn blood.

Funny :) As a centirist, atheist, Canadian citizen originally born into a communist nation, I can honestly say that the willful pig-headed ignorance of the Tea Party is only eclipsed by individuals such as yourself.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926348)

Wow.. Way to shoot the messenger and ignore the message. Kudos to you. You will be lifted on the shoulders of 10,000 idiots in remembrance of your great deed here today. In fact, some area already hailing you as a hero.

Try picking apart his points which as far as I can tell are valid. If there was a profit opportunity here, the greedy corporations would have seized the day with them and used it to cut their costs while continuing to rape the consumers while being protected through inordinate amounts of regulation making real competition near impossible hidden under smoke screen of protecting the people. This is little more then shelling out taxpayer money to those closest to the current government who aren't afraid to be seen sucking on the government tit in public.

And yes, I like my tea served cold and unsweetened. sometimes with a slash or rum in it.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926386)

I'm down for another civil war. Are you?

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (4, Insightful)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926130)

This is just total BS. The vast majority of advances in engineering and science in the history of mankind have been funded by the government or the church at one level or another. Why? Because R&D is high risk, and willingness to invest in things that high-risk is rare in the private market. VCs very rarely invest in real research, but instead typically invest in the phase where you take a concept with proven theory to a real product. Most research money produces nothing immediately useful. I freely confess this. But the only way to progress is to be willing to try a hundred ideas, understanding that 50 of them will produce nothing at all. Another 40 will probably basically just produce some interesting information. 9 of them will give you an interesting concept you might develop when conditions change, or that is useful for an exceedingly limited purpose, and 1 of them will produce a product that will actually go to the general market.... But guess what? Its totally worth it. And, in the end, not very expensive.

Re:Good, but there is always an issue (2)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926350)

I suppose that the construction of the interstate should have also been dropped in favor of individual private corporate entities constructing it and charging tolls to make their money back?

Ditto for the railroads, (why should the government have given bonds to the railroad companies when they should've been able to do it themselves)?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Transcontinental_Railroad [wikipedia.org]

Ditto for rural electrification. The companies should do what's profitable for them, not rely on the government to prop them up! Rural electrification was merely propping up the electric companies too, right? Probably the same for rural telephone access.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_electrification#United_States)

The point i'm trying to make, is that ALL of these projects, at their outsets, was "centralized planning or rent-seeking under a government unlawfully propping up its supporters with taxpayer money". "free-market competition under the same legal regime of equality under the law, absent political bribery and ransom" would have eschewed putting together a committee to study rural electrification, resulting in a massive delay in getting power to the boonies, which would've delayed dairy refrigeration, irrigation, etc. The government had to step in and offer loans (which probably cost taxpayers money) in order to spur development.

Sometimes government funding is necessary to carry out projects which corporations won't take up because they are short sighted or oblivious to anything but profits. We all used public infrastructure that are the result of centralized planning, or supported with tax payers money. Why do you have the right to say that we should draw a line at energy research? I suppose you say we should ax Nasa too, because it's rent seeking under a government?

$130mil? Wowzers~ (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925814)

Oh boy, $130million to create new energy solutions. That about what the computer systems in an SR-71 Blackbird costs. Guess the DoD will have to go without until next year's budget. Seriously though this is pathetic. $130million isn't shit. It's a laughable sum for any kind of major research project, let alone what is arguably the most important human challenge being faced today. Even $130bn would be too little spent in my opinion.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925918)

Oh boy, $130million to create new energy solutions. That about what the computer systems in an SR-71 Blackbird costs. Guess the DoD will have to go without until next year's budget. Seriously though this is pathetic. $130million isn't shit. It's a laughable sum for any kind of major research project, let alone what is arguably the most important human challenge being faced today. Even $130bn would be too little spent in my opinion.

Yep. About as much as it costs to run a Nimitz class aircraft carrier for half a year [answers.com] . A truly outstanding commitment to energy research.

I am dissapoint.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925958)

Well, we could change $130 million to $130 Billion if we could work out some sort of compromise. For example, we could drill ANWR, which is federal land (meaning federal oil), and mandate that the feds set aside $10 for each barrel of oil sold for investment into "green energy".

Oh, wait. We can't do that. A Caribou may have to have sex five miles from where he had it last year. Nevermind.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926072)

The reason ANWR is useless is because there isn't much there. Estimated recoverable oil is only about 1 year's worth at today's usage levels. Say we split that over 20 years for production. That's 5%. Lowers gas prices a whopping $0.40 for twenty years and then is gone, and we have a BP oil spill in the arctic where we can't even go to clean it up half the year.

It's not worth it.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (1)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926134)

I would not mind doing that. Except for the fact that current leases on federal land are vastly under used.

Why would we open this up to drilling when current leases are around only 50% used.

I'll be blunt. The reason why the oil companies want this is so they can stake their land grab before oil prices explode in the coming years. The government in the future will most likely have this information tossed in their face so they would be able to charge much higher royalties for the use of a good currently owned by the American People as a whole. Its not stupid of the Oil companies to want this. Its just immoral and underhanded for them to try and argue its for any other reason.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926230)

Well, we could change $130 million to $130 Billion if we could work out some sort of compromise. For example, we could drill ANWR, which is federal land (meaning federal oil), and mandate that the feds set aside $10 for each barrel of oil sold for investment into "green energy".

Oh, wait. We can't do that. A Caribou may have to have sex five miles from where he had it last year. Nevermind.

ANWAR solves nothing it's strictly about oil company profits. I believe Obama pointed out that we could provide as much oil as is in ANWAR by keeping our tires inflated properly. The Republicans made fun of him but neglected to point out that he was right. We can relive more pressure faster and cheaper through conservation and that is a fact than opening up all public lands to drilling. Set car average MPG at 50 and minimum at 30 which is doable and you'll save as much as 10 ANWARs and it can happen in a fraction of the time. The problem is conserving doesn't line corporate pockets and that's why it's not an option.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (3, Insightful)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926364)

I'm not sure I understand you. Are you advocating a targeted $10 per barrel tax only on oil drilled from ANWR? That seems silly, plus you must be aware that taxes on oil production are a political non-starter. It would be easier to get environmentalists to agree to drilling than to get the GOP to agree to taxes. And I don't even want to think about the economic distortions that would accompany taxing one area of production but not others...

On the other hand, it kinda sounds like you're calling for the Federal government to get into the oil drilling & selling business.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925974)

Unfortunately we don't have billions to give, we don't have millions. We don't even have hundreds.

We are broke. Either we cut spending, across the board with NOTHING being exempt, or we go bankrupt. Since no one wants to give up their pet project, I think bankruptcy is the only option.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926086)

Your an idiot. Your household budget doesn't work like the governments and shouldn't. We don't have money to spend on stupid things, but we can print our own money and people are still lining up to lend us money.

If we keep playing political games with the deficit and the debt limit though, they won't keep lending us money because they'll see we're completely taken over by a crazy party (GOP).

If you could spend $100,000,000 and get back $160,000,000, would you spend it? or would claim we are broke and not spend the money to make that $160 million?

Food stamps, unemployment insurance and infrastructure spending all return more money into the economy than they cost. Tax cuts do not.

So we can invest in our economy and country and grow our way out of this, or we can cut to the bone and just keep sinking lower and lower. We have some things to reform, but our budget was close to being balanced a decade ago. The only thing that changed was massive debts run up by the GOP.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926176)

We can't just print money and use it to pay off the debt. For each extra dollar we print, we make every other dollar in existence worth less. This means is takes more dollars to be worth a particular value, so prices go up. This is called inflation.

In any case, the argument that the GP gave that we can't spend money on X because we're broke only applies to things that the person making the argument doesn't like. You'll never see them admit we don't have any money to spend on the military because we're broke. If we can spend over $600 billion per year on the military, surely we have a couple of billion per year to develop the energy sources we're going to need this century. If we spend a few billions of dollars every year on alternative energy, who knows, maybe we can spend tens of billions less on the military because we don't need to make sure the spice^Woil flows.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926298)

We can't just print money and use it to pay off the debt.

I love how your next 2 sentences explain how we can do exactly that :) Not a great idea, but inflation is exactly how you make your debts worth less and therefore cheaper to pay off. Do T-bills get adjusted for inflation? Outstanding 'debt' is priced in dollars, if we inflate our currency that doesn't change the 'amount' we owe people.

As I said this is not a good idea, especially radically fast, but inflation over time causes the original debt to be worth less and thus now easier to pay off.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926306)

If we can spend over $600 billion per year on the military, surely we have a couple of billion per year to develop the energy sources we're going to need this century.

Yeah, and if you can afford to spend $20,000 a year on rent, utilities, and food, you can afford to give me $5,000 so I can do ... stuff.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926358)

It's more like if you can afford $40,000 for a new car every two years, you can afford to save $3000 per year for your retirement. What would you say to someone who says they can't save any money when they're always driving a new, fancy car?

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (0)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926382)

I agree - you don't need a new car, so the US obviously doesn't need a military. Please disband it. We promise to protect your borders for you.

    - Sincerely, Canada

But it's not chump change for the cronies. (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926096)

Seriously though this is pathetic. $130million isn't shit It's a laughable sum for any kind of major research project ...

But it's a tidy sum for a crony of the government administrator who decides who gets it.

And it's also a major boon to the crony who's actually trying to go to market - in competition with some non-crony who had to raise his capital himself. $130 million in free money is a big competitive advantage.

Let's bring out the Corps of Engineers' bulldozers and tilt the playing field - like about 45 degrees. ; THEN let the market decide. Yeah, right.

Re:But it's not chump change for the cronies. (1)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926168)

No one but complete simpletons could even begin to jokingly consider the invisible hand a valid argument at this point.

You like your internet? TV? Velcro? Microprocessors? All of these were developed in the US as a direct result of federal government research. The reason why this technology was developed in the US and not some random other nation was the direct funding and research of these products by the US government.

Go f off wingnut

SR-71 was retired in 1999 (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926108)

So the computers don't cost anything. Perhaps you are confusing present day with 20 years ago?

Planes get old, but uninformed Internet chatter is evergreen.

Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926216)

I dunno, I wouldn't underestimate the productiveness of a lean funded project compared a heavily funded one. Low money might make the project teams think a bit more creatively.

It'll work THIS TIME (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925820)

All those previous game-changing energy projects have worked out so well over the years...

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Re:Swarovski Outlet (0)

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Moon Movie (1)

android.dreamer (1948792) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925834)

Do you think they would finance NASA if we could mine the top layers of the Moon for He3?

Re:Moon Movie (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926186)

Who needs He3? B11 + p is is aneutronic. ( -> 3x He4, with the occasional neutron or other crud from side-reactions). The Alphas come out at well-enough defined energies that you can capture well over 80% of the fusion energy as DC at a couple megavolts by decelerating and capturing them.

Lots of B11 and H1 around. If Polywell, Focus, or some other ignition system works out we're home free.

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another funny-money Obamination (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925878)

Way to waste our money Obamessiah
 
Isn't enough with cramming your electric car(government motors volt) down our throats

Re:another funny-money Obamination (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926094)

Way to be an ignorant dittohead!

0.004% of the total budget? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925884)

I'm glad to see gov't prioritizing this so highly.

Re:0.004% of the total budget? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925906)

Wait until the Republicans take their budget axe to it and give the money to their corporate and banker cronies.

1.6 Trillion Dollar Deficit (5, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925886)

Hi,

Imagine if we had an extra12 Trillion to spend on green energy. We could put $10,000 solar panels on 100M houses - almost every freaking house in the US. I am not saying it is a wise decision. Just saying that is the power of 1 Trillion dollars. That is also about HALF what we will pay in interest on our debt over the next six years.

Just a friendly reminder that the U.S. is getting itself closer and closer to insolvency. Between a grossly over-funding military, entitlements out the ass and a belief that the rich should get more and more tax cuts, we are getting closer to not being able to pay our bills.

Depending on how you look at the budget, we spend 780B to 900B on defense related funding (depends on whether veteran benefits are military or entitlement)
Social Security is 750B
Income Security is 570B
Medicare is 500B
Health is 400B
Interest is 250B
There is about 600B in miscellaneous other areas. And we will run up a tab of $1.6Trillion in the process. Grand total of around 16Trillion in debt.

I am all for funding science. This is an area that has an investment effect in the economy. The military has almost no payback relative to the investment. Other areas listed about don't either.

Yet with the exception of the military you won't see any of the above numbers drop (and military might not either). Interest paid out is expected to double by 2015. So where does science funding end up? It doesn't take a rocket scientist (I see what I did there) to figure it out. Other countries will be able to fund scientists and I surely expect the brain drain effect to take place. The US will lose (continue to lose?) its best and brightest to countries who value science.

If you are a Democrat, you are an idiot. Sorry. This is the truth. If you are a Republican (as I was once a Republican) you are even dumber. The Republicans brag about cutting 40B out of the budget when we are running $1,600B deficits. Democrats cry that we just need to raise income tax on the rich (or return to where they were a few years ago) and things will be hunky-dory. Republicans swear that if we increase taxes, the US will go to hell.

The reality is we need to cut back spending. If we increase taxes, it will cover about 1/3 of our deficit... but we need to return income taxes to pre-Bush levels. We need to seriously evaluate how much we want to spend on social programs and then we need to fund our future. And it should not be in the form of an IOU to China.

If you want to see science funded, we need to get serious about balancing our budget.

Re:1.6 Trillion Dollar Deficit (0)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925912)

Imagine if we had an extra12 Trillion

Not sure how the typo got there.... 1 Trillion, not 12 Trillion

Re:1.6 Trillion Dollar Deficit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926206)

As long as we're imagining extra money, I'm going to go with the $12 trillion. :)

Re:1.6 Trillion Dollar Deficit (1, Offtopic)

aekafan (1690920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925976)

Amen to this. Democrats think we can balance the budget by taxing more, and spending more. Republicans think we can balance the budget by cutting welfare programs, while ignoring the biggest welfare program of them all, the US military. These indicate that there will be no possible political solution. An economic solution will happen, but people might not like it. I am not even sure that taxing more and spending less will work, because there is no political will to do so. Science is and always will be a back-burner issue, sadly.

Re:1.6 Trillion Dollar Deficit (4, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926126)

If you are a Democrat, you are an idiot....Democrats cry that we just need to raise income tax on the rich (or return to where they were a few years ago) and things will be hunky-dory.

You do realize the Dem's have agreed to reforms of Social Security and Medicare right? They aren't saying taxing the rich will fix everything just that it's crazy to give them tax cuts when cutting other major pieces of the budget.

If you think providing a social safety net is 'stupid', well I don't have a lot of sympathy for you. Your parents use it or will use it, just the same as Medicare. These are *necessary* programs for the health of our society. Imagine how bad the economy would be if everybody was saving to buy private insurance when they are 65+. It's ridiculously expensive to buy insurance when you're healthy, let alone when you're elderly. How about retirement? Again lots more money out of the economy as people have to save for their entire retirement.

Next, what do you do with people who lost their savings in the recession? They don't have any money to pay for health insurance or retire. If you say 'tough', well I have no sympathy for you.

Being in favor, and paying for, social programs is not stupid. It's the fabric that keeps this the best country in the world.

Re:1.6 Trillion Dollar Deficit (1)

bit trollent (824666) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926200)

The last President that balanced a budget was Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

It would have been possible to balance the budget if not for the tax increases that Clinton and the Democrats passed over massive Republican opposition. Budget cutting compromises with Republicans also helped balance the budget. Thoughtful compromise is necessary. Republicans never compromise.

Who did you vote for in the last election?

"Both parties are stupid" is a very common way of distracting idiots, keeping them from voting for the politicians who really are fighting for their future.

If you didn't vote in the last two elections, you are an idiot. If you voted republican, then please stop voting to for the party that regularly threatens to shut down the government or default on the debt if we don't pay their ransom.

Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (1, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925892)

Since we have no shortage of energy but we have a desperate shortage of funds in the Treasury, these types of projects should not be funded. Let a less bankrupt country fund them.

These types of grants tend to be direct monetary payback for political support and campaign donations anyway.

Re:Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926022)

Since we have no shortage of energy but we have a desperate shortage of funds in the Treasury, these types of projects should not be funded. Let a less bankrupt country fund them.

The U.S. isn't bankrupt. We're just unwilling to pay for anything. Big difference.

Re:Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926052)

We are willing to pay for lots of things.

130 million dollars for example, could pay for like 2 whole hours of operations in Iraq. Or a single tomahawk cruise missile.

The US simply doesn't want to pay for anything that doesn't involve ethically questionable military strikes.

Re:Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (2)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926062)

The Treasury is empty and we're $14 Trillion in the hole. If we weren't so recklessly willing to pay for anything, we'd only be $12 or $11 Trillion in the hole.

Re:Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926152)

The Treasury is empty and we're $14 Trillion in the hole.

...yet we have no trouble finding a few trillion to go kill or imprison brown people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Mexico, etc..., as well as here in our own country..

Re:Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926138)

Since my household has no shortage of food but we have a desperate shortage of funds in the bank, our budget for gas to get to work should not be funded. Let a less bankrupt person take my job.

What could possibly go wrong?

(For the obtuse: you need to spend money to make money.)

Re:Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926192)

And you have to transfer money to your political cronies to get them to donate part of it to your reelection campaign.

This isn't gas or food money. These projects are 100% discretionary, nonessential, and speculative.

Re:Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (1)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926178)

Have you never heard of a rolling blackout? Again your little redneck hole in the wall does not reflect what the rest of the civilized world experiences.

Re:Bankrupt government funds boondoggles (1)

Software Geek (1097883) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926314)

Since we have no shortage of energy but we have a desperate shortage of funds in the Treasury, these types of projects should not be funded. Let a less bankrupt country fund them.

These types of grants tend to be direct monetary payback for political support and campaign donations anyway.

To address your points one by one:
1) Bankruptcy
Cutting this research would reduce the federal budget by about 0.0025%
The United States has a serious decision to make whether to: Cut military spending, Cut Medicare spending, Raise taxes, and/or Go bankrupt.
No other budgetary changes that the US can make will make any difference to the crisis we find ourselves in.
Trying to solve our budget problems by cutting research spending is just a way of denying the real problem.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amdahl's_law [wikipedia.org]

2) No shortage of energy
The resources used by our current energy technologies will be exhausted in a few decades. All of the replacement technologies being considered will take at least a few decades to deploy on the required scale.
Energy is THE scarce commodity in our economic system. A discovery that halved the price of energy would double the standard of living of every person on earth.

3) Corruption/Inefficiency of government funded research
If government does not fund this research, who will? Private companies tend to fund R&D that will make them rich, not basic research that will make future generations rich.
Is it better to do the research inefficiently or not do it at all?

The following discoveries were brought to you by US government funded research:
Nuclear power, Communication Satellites, The Internet

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electrcity internet router? (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925924)

We have already discovered this technology its called the bus bar (big copper / alloy strips we feed power through), tap off as many connections as you want. If you want a network switch then its a bit more complicated but basically a substation. Unless they want to share power all over the world in which case a world wide electricity gird is a lot more important.

Re:electrcity internet router? (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926220)

It's called the smart grid [wikipedia.org] .

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Progressive new technologies? (4, Funny)

poity (465672) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925960)

Really? As opposed to regressive new technologies?

As long as we have oil lobbying in DC... (1)

spagthorpe (111133) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925966)

...nothing that really challenges our dependence on petroleum will happen. I really like to believe that we are forward thinking, and would through whatever resources were needed to make sure that our energy needs were met, but then I wake up and remember that the almighty $$$ controls everything that happens. If someone managed to genetically engineer a gasgrass, you can bet it will never show up until the last barrel of oil is pumped out of the ground. Even then, know that the oil companies will have a patent on it by the time you can buy it.

Game changers: BTDT (5, Interesting)

RavenManiac (220921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925998)

We played that alternative renewable energy game 30 years ago. Quietly. Saved an extra +$100k to do better things than to heat or cool our house, like paying tuition, paying off our mortgage early and finding good naturist beaches.

Conservation and passive solar can replace more than 50% of the energy you--not ME--waste. Easy. High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS) -- BTDT ca. 1980. We even have almost free air conditioning from long underground pipes.

Research? Make a list of what's already been done and change the building codes to require more insulation, air-to-air heat exchangers, solar hot water, PV panels, credits for being good [with energy]. This is OLD tech. We got our $3300 tax credit and turned it into a +3000% return. Pretty sweet!

Not shortsighted enough for this Repub Retard (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926008)

We should make a payment of $1 Trillion directly to the oil companies in the form of a tax subsidy paid for with national debt of course.

Then they can sell us our own oil at a 500% markup while pocketing government money.

This is definitely a better idea than funding research and manufacturing of alternaitve energy sources like Barack Hussein Obama wants to do.

Also, I agree with the xenophobic lies that Donald Trump has been spreading about Obama's birth certificate. And kill Medicare. Fuck our parents. What have they ever done for us??

I'm a shortsighted retard, so I'm a Republican.

Re:Not shortsighted enough for this Repub Retard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926078)

You can't fool us, you're not really a Republican, they're not that honest.

Darn, was expecting Adiabatic CAES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926074)

Darn, was expecting Adiabatic CAES :/

The HEATS description is so vague

public domain research (1)

pikine (771084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926102)

All is well, as long as the result of the research belongs to public domain. It still may be patentable, but the patent should be compulsorily licensable royalty free to the public.

how about the US spending real money instead (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926112)

just end the oil subsidies and use that for these projects. It would actually be a significant amount instead of this pittance.

Re:how about the US spending real money instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35926148)

Have you ever considered the real price of ending the oil subsidies? As much as I hate the term 'too big to fail' this would turn the entire planet on its ear. In most likeliness you'd be bitching up a storm from all the unforeseen consequences dropping the oil industry would have on your life.

Why don't you write to your leaders and let them know that you'd instead like to see a gradual and comprehensive defunding of all profitable ventures. Give them 10 years. Of course, you'll be laughed at but it's much more forward thinking then your plan.

Re:how about the US spending real money instead (2)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926282)

Ex-Shell CEO Says Big Oil Can Live Without Subsidies [nationaljournal.com]

Although it doesn't matter, because Republicans in the House voted UNANIMOUSLY [thinkprogress.org] to keep sending TENS OF BILLIONS of dollars in subsidies to Big Oil. And yet somehow this thread has attracted all kinds of bitching about $130 million. Talk about hypocrisy!

Invest in LFTR! (1, Offtopic)

Vasheron (1750022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926258)

A potentially truly game-changing technology is Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor). This was a technology developed during the Cold War that uses thorium to breed uranium for nuclear fission in order to generate electricity. It has most of the advantages and almost none of the disadvantages of traditional nuclear power generation. The technology has been tested and a reactor was build and run at Oakridge National Labs for a number of years. Unfortunately it wasn't developed initially due to the emphasis on building weapons - the thorium fuel cycle isn't ideal for nuclear weapons - and the technology faded into obscurity. Recently, however, a group of engineers, scientists, and concerned individuals has taken a serious interest in this technology and is advocating restarting research on LFTR with the goal of developing a commercially viable reactor. You can find more information at http://energyfromthorium.com/ [energyfromthorium.com] .

If you want to be taken seriously (1)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926318)

If you want to be taken seriously never use the word 'game changing;' in a article, even if you are talking about a video game.. Especially if you are taking about a video game
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