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Power Outage

Cutting Funding for Energy Innovation Would Be a Grave Mistake

An array of solar panels in Victorville, California, March 2015. Lucy Nicholson / REUTERS

The federal budget that U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled in March has attracted intense and diverse criticism. If enacted, it would slash funding for environmental protection, the arts, and public broadcasting while boosting military spending. But one category of proposed cuts has mostly flown under the radar. The budget would strip the United States of its position as the world’s leading funder of innovative energy technologies by eliminating over a third of public spending in that field and cutting nearly 70 percent of the funding in targeted technology areas, such as renewable energy.

That would be a mistake. Without strong government support for energy innovation, the United States will fall further behind in the global race to command the industries of the future, from next-generation batteries to meltdown-proof nuclear reactors. China already dominates the production of existing clean energy technologies, and it is ramping up its investments in new

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