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Open Letter to Secretary Perry

May 4, 2017

The Honorable Rick Perry
Secretary of the Department of Energy
Washington, DC
Re: ARPA-E “no contract action” order

Dear Secretary Perry:

I write you as President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) on behalf of my organization and the over 3,000,000 pro-life Christians who have joined with us to fight for a clean environment. Thank you for your service to our nation as Secretary of Energy.

I was quite disturbed to read news reports that the Department of Energy (DOE) has subjected FY2016 research grants from the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to a “no contract action,” thereby withholding funds that have been appropriated by Congress and awarded by ARPA-E. This has put people’s jobs at risk, like a young researcher, Molly Hanlon (see pic), at Penn State in my home state of Pennsylvania.


There is absolutely no reason for FY’16 grants to not be honored immediately so that young researchers like Molly can make their contribution to our nation’s well-being. Further, there is no reason that ARPA-E’s grants and programs should not move forward expeditiously, given that (1) over $100 million of FY2017 funding has been sent to ARPA-E under the Continuing Resolution, and (2) ARPA-E’s overall FY’17 budget will be increased by $15 million based on the Omnibus spending bill agreed to this week.

My organization is a staunch supporter of ARPA-E specifically and clean-tech R&D more generally. Based upon the highly successful DARPA, which has helped to give us such game-changers as the Internet, ARPA-E “advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.” In other words, they tee up these high-impact technologies for investment by the private sector; without ARPA-E, there would be no such investment. In addition, ARPA-E supports inventors who are “developing entirely new ways to generate, store, and use energy.” Such disruptive technologies are vital to our nation’s future economic and environmental well-being, but are not always welcomed with open arms by mature industries.

As pro-life Christians, we support ARPA-E because we want both a vibrant economy and a clean energy future for our children. It is part of our calling to love God and our neighbors. Achieving these things is also part of our responsibility as citizens of this great country to keep our nation strong and a force for good. And so as fellow citizens we ask you to keep ARPA-E’s great work moving forward expeditiously, which includes making sure that this reported “no contract action” be stopped immediately.

Thank you.


The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
Photo: Patrick Mansell/Penn State

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