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2020 climate plans have lofty goals for energy research and development

Several 2020 Democrats want huge increases in federal energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) as part of their much wider multitrillion dollar proposals.

The big picture: A new report from the nonpartisan Information Technology & Innovation Foundation shows the challenge of enacting even comparatively modest goals on that front, despite some support across the aisle for increases as Congress keeps rebuffing White House calls for deep cuts.

By the numbers: Biden calls for $400 billion over 10 years. So does Booker. So does Warren. Sanders goes even further. Full disclosure: I haven't read every plan yet!

Where it stands: "The 116th Congress seems poised to continue the trend of modest year-over-year growth," the report notes.

  • It points out the 6% boost for energy RD&D to $7.7 billion in the House energy appropriations bill for fiscal year 2020 that was passed in June.
  • But that's still "well below the doubling pathway envisioned when the international Mission Innovation initiative was launched by the United States and other nations at the time of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015."

What's next: The report notes that the Senate Appropriations Committee is poised to start work on its version. GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander favors significantly increased spending on energy RD&D.

Go deeper: Making energy innovation more than a buzzword