Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government

During the period 1995-1999, the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) produced three major energy studies, at President Clinton's request. The panels that conducted these studies were broadly constituted from the academic, industrial, and NGO (nongovernmental organization) sectors, and their recommendations were unanimous. These efforts (a) helped lay the foundation for several major energy initiatives of the second Clinton term, including the Climate Change Technology Initiative, the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative, and the International Clean Energy Initiative; (b) helped launch energy R&D activities on methane hydrates and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide; and (c) strengthened related activities, such as the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, the Partnership for Advancing Technologies in Housing, the fossil power Vision-21 Program, and the National Bioenergy Initiative. Federal budgets for research, development, demonstration, and deployment of advanced energy technologies have increased substantially over the past four years, but they still fall short of PCAST's recommendations; and a number of the PCAST recommendations on matters other than budget have yet to be fully implemented. The PCAST energy studies demonstrate the possibility of forging consensus around key energy issues and provide a foundation on which, it is hoped, the continuing pursuit of a coherent national policy on energy innovation will be able to build.

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