President Obama Releases 2013 Budget; Advanced Manufacturing and Clean Energy Highlighted
Although it will be certain to face fierce opposition from Congress, President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget request on February 13. This proposal contains many of SEMI’s public policy priorities: increased R&D investments for science agencies, a permanent and improved R&D tax credit, a commitment to STEM (science, technology, math and engineering) education, and tax incentives for solar energy.
Federal R&D Investments
Obama’s proposal maintains the goal set out in the America Competes Act to double the R&D budgets of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The budget would provide $140.8 billion for research and development, increasing R&D by five percent from what was requested last year. This includes $7.4 billion for the National Science Foundation, a five percent increase, with specific emphasis on advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and science and mathematics education. All are top public policy priorities for SEMI.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology: The budget provides $708 million for NIST labs, expanding NIST research in areas such as smart manufacturing and nano-manufacturing.
- Department of Energy: The budget provides DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy with $290 million for its Advanced Manufacturing Office. The budget also continues to support the development of competitive new manufacturing processes for solar and other clean energy technologies to help ensure that these technologies are invented and manufactured in the United States.
- National Science Foundation: In addition to the overall agency funding increase, the Administration proposes $149 million, an increase of $39 million above the 2012 enacted level, for basic research targeted at developing revolutionary new manufacturing technologies in partnership with other federal agencies and the private sector.
The President is also said to be “doubling down” on his support of clean energy. The President’s proposals include:
- Doubling the Share of Electricity from Clean Energy Sources by 2035: The President has proposed a Clean Energy Standard, specifying 80 percent of electricity would come from clean energy sources by 2035. SEMI supports this proposal as long as solar PV receives a fair share in recognition of its benefits. PV lacks certain negative externalities like fossil fuels and it has excellent potential to provide distributed generation.
- Increasing Investment in Clean Energy Technologies: The budget invests nearly $6.7 billion across the government to support the advancement of clean energy technologies, including R&D for solar. This investment is complimented by targeted financial assistance and tax incentives to help promote the deployment of clean energy technologies that are ready today. For example, the budget provides an additional $5 billion in Section 48C tax credits for clean energy manufacturing facilities and extends the Section 1603 payments in lieu of tax credits for renewable energy deployment in 2012. Both of these are positions that SEMI strongly supports and has advocated for in the past.
The President’s budget calls for additional investments in STEM education. To prepare tomorrow’s leaders, the President has set a goal to prepare 100,000 STEM teachers over the next decade. The budget allocates $80 million toward that goal for the Department of Education dedicated to teacher pathways that successfully prepare effective STEM teachers. The budget also funds a jointly administered mathematics education initiative, with $30 million from the Department of Education and $30 million from the National Science Foundation, to support evidence-based approaches to improve student learning at the K-12 and undergraduate levels.
While these policies are included in the President’s budget, it is the U.S. Congress who has the power to put these ideas into law. With a contentious Presidential election underway, and their own elections to tend to in November, it will be a challenge to see many of these programs enacted in the near future. SEMI’s Washington office continues to work for the benefits of its membership and is actively working with Congress to support these goals. Please feel free to contact Jamie Girard, senior manager for public policy, with any questions or to get involved (firstname.lastname@example.org).
March 6, 2012