DOE freezes millions in high-tech energy grants and gags staff

May 1, 2017

By Jeffrey Mervis

The Department of Energy (DOE) has stopped processing the paperwork on tens of millions of dollars in research that its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has agreed to fund.

DOE officials aren’t saying why they have taken this unusual step, dubbed a “no-contract action.” It went into effect earlier this month and affects more than a dozen projects across four new ARPA-E programs. The move, first reported by Politico Pro, includes a gag order on ARPA-E program managers, leaving investigators in the dark about the status of their grants. The resulting uncertainty is having a devastating impact on research teams, scientists say, and even threatens the viability of small companies for whom these major awards are so important.

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), the top Democrat on the science committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, is concerned that the apparent contracting freeze might violate federal laws requiring agencies to spend appropriations from Congress—in this case, the $291 million that ARPA-E received for the 2016 fiscal year that ended last September. On Wednesday she wrote to DOE Secretary Rick Perry reminding him that “diversion or impoundment of this money would be contrary to law” and asking him whether the agency “is currently subject to a ‘no-contract action’ or similar action and, if so what the parameters are.”

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11 comments on “DOE freezes millions in high-tech energy grants and gags staff

  • @OP – The move, first reported by Politico Pro, includes a gag order on ARPA-E program managers, leaving investigators in the dark about the status of their grants. The resulting uncertainty is having a devastating impact on research teams, scientists say, and even threatens the viability of small companies for whom these major awards are so important.

    But the village idiots have been elected or appointed, and they are determined to show “how much better they know” their “alternative facts”, than the scientists and engineers!

    Ironically they WILL show “How much better they (don’t) know”, – but as the indications are – they don’t care, – as long as they get cheering from their ignoramus yahoo’s chorus and corrupt sponsors!



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  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the agency evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.

    The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA’s key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.



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  • Scientists around the globe are unlikely to be impressed with Trump’s carbon industry stooges, his lack of expert advisors, or his contempt for expert advice!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39839963

    Participants in UN climate talks have expressed reservations about making changes to the Paris climate agreement just to keep the US in the treaty.

    Speculation has increased that President Trump may withdraw the America over fears it could hamper his oil and gas reforms.

    There have been suggestions that the US might stay in, if it was allowed to lower its carbon targets.

    But delegates here say countries should raise not cut their commitments.
    Fewer Americans

    There were just seven negotiators from the US as over 2,000 gathered here for the first day of UN climate talks.

    Diplomats are concerned that the small American team bodes ill for their future participation in the Paris climate agreement.

    Last year, the US sent about 40 delegates to the Bonn May meeting, roughly the same number as China.

    This year’s team of seven is three fewer than the delegation from Belize, a smaller and much poorer nation than the US.

    The US State department told news agencies that the reason for the small team was because the US was still working out its climate priorities.

    A tough job when using a handful of science denial muppets in place of teams of environmental, climate, or technology experts!

    “We are focused on ensuring that decisions are not taken at these meetings that would prejudice our future policy, undermine the competitiveness of US businesses, or hamper our broader objective of advancing US economic growth and prosperity,” a spokesperson said.

    Meanwhile another meeting of White House advisors to discuss climate change is expected to take place on Tuesday.
    President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, are likely to take part, according to reports.

    It’s believe{d] that the President’s attitude to pulling out of the agreement has hardened in recent weeks.
    His legal advisers have argued that the accord might strengthen the hand of environmentalists who want to fight his reforms of the oil, coal and gas industries in the courts.

    Well Trump can’t have those expert environmentalists compromising oil or coal profits!!!
    I mean :- “What use is a sustainable planet without oil and coal profits?” 🙂

    Others here believed that if the US did step away from the agreement, the world would not come to an end. In some ways, it might be better both for the accord and the planet.

    “Obviously we want the US to stay in the Paris Agreement, for its own good as well as for the rest of the world. But this can’t be at any cost,” said Mohamed Adow from Christian Aid.

    “Having the world’s efforts to tackle climate change dictated by a small group of ideological climate deniers, in the world’s richest country, is clearly a recipe for disaster.”



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  • @#5

    Meanwhile another meeting of White House advisors to discuss climate change is expected to take place on Tuesday. [or be postponed again?]
    President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, are likely to take part, according to reports.

    Well the “experts” on “important stuff” will be present!
    Climate change denial and polluting industries, should be well represented, while all delegates should be checked to see that they are wearing clothes which are Trump family fashion-compliant! 🙂



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  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39863816

    Campaigners say there should be greater scrutiny of industry bodies that are involved in UN climate talks.

    Environmental groups allege that fossil fuel industries are funding a number of business and industry participants in these talks.

    These groups should be restricted, say the campaigners, because they say their goal is to slow down or derail progress.

    Business representatives say that the discussion is an attempt at censorship.

    At this meeting in Bonn, the UN has convened a special workshop on the role of observer organisations that make up a significant proportion of the attendees at these events.

    Some countries including India, China, Indonesia and Ecuador are calling for clearer and tighter rules around potential conflicts of interest.

    A recent report from Corporate Accountability International gave details of what the group claimed were the connections between fossil fuel industries and business non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with links to the UN climate talks process.

    “There are over 270 business and industry NGOs accredited to the UNFCCC,” Jesse Bragg from Corporate Accountability International told BBC News.

    “Many of these groups represent the interests of fossil fuel companies around the world.”

    “What many parties are saying now is that we need to take a look at what voices we want to have heard in the climate policy making process.”

    When asked what the differences were between the industry and green groups that try and influence proceedings, Mr Bragg said:

    “Environmental groups represent the public interest – these business groups represent the financial interests of certain industries. Fundamentally we are talking about representing people or representing profits.”

    Supporters of tighter regulations say the example of the World Health Organization is a good model for the climate talks.
    The tobacco industry is not allowed to be part of the negotiations relating to the Global Tobacco Treaty.

    The National Mining Association (NMA) is a US body that represents the interests of more than 300 corporations and organisations involved in the extraction of coal and mineral resources. . . . . .

    Mr Popovich also railed against the attempt of green groups and others to restrict organisations that promote the use of fossil fuels from having a role in the UN discussions.

    “If they believe climate change is real why do they wish to prevent dialogue, to censor discussion, on what might be the rational policy responses to climate change?

    MMMMmmm. . . – Reducing greenhouse gases and promoting fossil fuels!
    He isn’t bright enough to spot the conflict of interest?? – or is he just a dishonest propagandist?

    At a time when the participation of the US in the Paris climate agreement is uncertain, the UN is unlikely to take swift action, if any, on the question of observer organisations, their operations and funding.



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  • @OP – DOE freezes millions in high-tech energy grants and gags staff

    The Department of Energy (DOE)
    has stopped processing the paperwork on tens of millions of dollars in research
    that its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has agreed to fund.

    Meanwhile – abandoning the chaos he is generating at home, – Trump is off abroad, doing deals on behalf of the people he REALLY represents!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39984903

    On Saturday morning, Amin Nasser, the chief executive of Saudi oil giant Aramco, said $50bn (£38bn) of deals would be signed with 11 US companies.

    Separately, US media say Saudi Arabia will commit to buying about $100bn of US-made arms.



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  • Of course as people progressively get the opportunity to look at Trumponomics and Trump “job-creation plans”, the contrast with reality will become more and more obvious”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-38397644

    A series of colourfully-written letters sent by Donald Trump to then-Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has been published in full for the first time.

    The letters formed part of an intense lobbying campaign against plans for an offshore wind project near Mr Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf resort.

    And the US president elect predicted the “insanity” of the project would bankrupt Scotland, and destroy Mr Salmond’s hopes for Scottish independence.

    On 9 February 2012, Mr Trump told Mr Salmond: “With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history.”

    The correspondence showed Mr Trump becoming increasingly frustrated by the turbine plan.

    On 12 March 2012 he asked Mr Salmond: “Do you want to be known for centuries to come as ‘Mad Alex – the man who destroyed Scotland’?”

    He added: “If you pursue this craziness Scotland will go broke and forever lose whatever chance you currently have of making Scotland independent.”

    The following month he warned about the economic damage that reliance on wind power would do.

    The released papers include one reply from Mr Salmond to Mr Trump, in which he told the tycoon that the renewable energy industry would help create job opportunities in Scotland.

    In the 12 April 2012 response, Mr Salmond said: “We are determined to be on the right side of this debate, to deliver a future for the next generation, and a prosperous one at that.”

    Vattenfall is now going ahead with the £300m construction of Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility after Mr Trump’s efforts – including a [UK] Supreme Court challenge – failed.

    Meanwhile in 2017 – back in the real world of science, engineering, and economic planning:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39990688

    Scottish Power has won the right to build two offshore wind farms in the US which it says could eventually power 400,000 homes.

    The two sites combined are more than double the size of the energy giant’s operations in the UK.

    The two farms will be off the coast of Massachusetts and North Carolina, and are expected to start generating power by 2022 and 2025 respectively.

    The company refused to say how much it had paid to win the bids for two sites.

    Thousands of jobs are expected to come from the development of the wind farms.

    Keith Anderson, Scottish Power’s chief corporate officer, said the firm’s success was evidence of the UK industry’s export potential.

    “We as a country are seen to be the leaders in this type of technology. It’s great to be creating opportunities and developing skills in the UK, but also to see these being exported.

    Mr Anderson said the “huge amount of land” in the US had made “colossal wind farms possible onshore”.

    “The cost differential between onshore and offshore was so large that a lot of people never thought that America would be interested. But now we’re staring to see the process pick up speed as the cost of offshore wind comes down,” he added.

    While Trump makes propaganda about re-creating jobs in the coal industry, and promotes industrial obsolescence, the foreign companies he is disparaging, are replacing the US in modern hi-tech sustainable energy industries!
    Naturally, the Chinese are far outperforming Scotland in the wider range of green renewable exports, but Trump remains a major handicap to Americans in the face of all competition – (apart from short-term benefits to some of those in the armaments and carbon pollution industries)!!



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  • While the Trump administration wallows around in chaotic confusion, prevarication, and climate change denial, global climate change marches on:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40094160

    Australia’s Great Barrier Reef lost nearly a third of its corals in the past year, officials have said.

    Coral “bleaching” has led to widespread coral decline and habitat loss on the world’s largest coral reef system.

    Surveys show that 29% of corals died in 2016, greater than the figure of 22% projected in mid-2016.

    The worst-hit area was near Port Douglas, where 70% of shallow water corals died, but there was a recovery of corals in the south of the reef.

    The latest results come from surveys carried out by the Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Australian Institute of Marine Science and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

    Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman Russell Reichelt said: “As has been the case with reefs across the world, the Great Barrier Reef has experienced significant and widespread impacts over the last two years.

    “We’re very concerned about what this means for the Great Barrier Reef itself and what it means for the communities and industries that depend on it.”

    According to newpaper reports, a meeting over the reef’s future was recently told that the federal and Queensland government’s long-term plan to protect the reef, announced in 2015, was no longer achievable.

    In 2017, further coral die-offs are expected from the second year of bleaching in a row, and the impacts of tropical cyclone Debbie, the officials said.

    Researchers say that climate change is a significant driver behind the coral loss and experts have said the window is closing fast to cut the greenhouse gas emissions pushing up temperatures and harming the reef.



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  • http://www.france24.com/en/20170602-world-leaders-reaffirm-fight-climate-change-donald-trump-paris-deal

    Top European leaders pledged Thursday to keep fighting against global warming as President Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of the Paris climate accord, but they rejected his suggestion that the deal could later be renegotiated.

    The European Union’s top climate change official, Miguel Arias Canente, said in a statement that Trump’s decision to leave the Paris accord made it “a sad day for the global community,” adding that the bloc “deeply regrets the unilateral decision.”

    Canete also predicted that the EU would seek new alliances from the world’s largest economies to the most vulnerable island states, as well as U.S. businesses and individuals supportive of the accord.

    In other words – Trump is regarded as an irritating irrelevance!



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