During the mid-1970s, however, a series of new grants of authority and appropriations of large amounts of funding created a broad R&D program extending to nearly every aspect of energy supply and demand technology. The DOE energy R&D programs carried out directly and through the national laboratory establishment now encompass basic energy sciences, high energy physics, fusion energy, and the more applied research into the nuclear, fossil, conservation, and renewable energy technologies. In recent years, budgetary constraints along with an explicit policy promulgated by the Reagan Administration to restrict DOE research to long-term, high-risk technologies have acted to bias the R&D program toward the basic sciences and long-range nuclear technologies. Some exceptions, such as the “clean coal” demonstration program, enjoyed Congressional support and have survived. More recent policy expressions appear to signal the reconsideration of that policy and a moderate shift of program resources to nearer-term R&D sectors. Pressures to address global warming issues, in part through increased emphasis on energy efficiency and renewables may accelerate that shift (NAS, 1991). However, large budgetary increases remain unlikely.

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