June 27, 2006

Schumer Announces Bold Manhattan Project To Break Nations Dependence On Foreign Oil

By: by Bethany Lesser, Office of Senator Schumer


At the first New Energy Symposium hosted by New Energy New York, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer gave a major policy address where he outlined his bold “Manhattan Project” for energy.  Schumer’s plan would devote billions of dollars for new energy research and development, and create a new federal agency to promote innovation.

“We need to direct the resources and full wherewithal of the federal government toward a Manhattan Project to make us energy independent,” Schumer said.  “Whether it was FDR rallying the country to defend freedom abroad or President Kennedy daring us to reach beyond the sky to explore space, today’s energy crisis needs the same drive, imagination, and leadership.  New energy technology companies across New York have a seminal role to play in making our nation safe and secure, free of foreign sources of energy.”

The new Manhattan Project would be administered by a completely new and independent agency called the National Energy Efficiency Development Administration (NEEDA).  Its sole mission would be to reduce US imports of foreign oil 5% by 2008; 20% by 2011; and 50% by 2015. 

NEEDA would focus on five primary tasks:

  • FIRST, NEEDA will support efforts to improve existing energy efficient technologies and develop new ones.  It will conduct comprehensive studies of the potential benefits gained from such technologies and identify mechanisms to introduce these energy efficient technologies into the marketplace.  These efforts will be conducted through internal activities, public-private partnerships, and direct support for private-sector innovation.


  • SECOND, through its Office of Policy, Research, and Development, NEEDA focus on accelerating development and hastening implementation of energy efficient and new energy technology challenges.


  • THIRD, NEEDA will also contain an Energy Efficiency Economics Division, an Incentives Division, an Education Division, and an Office of Venture Capital to study and report on the economic impact of new technologies and policies that could spur further innovation, make information available to retail energy users, and provide financial support for promising private innovation efforts.


  • FOURTH, NEEDA will contain a Policy Advisory Committee that will be comprised of appointed leaders from the fields of energy efficiency and conservation, energy production, transportation, and scientific research.


  • And FIFTH, as part of this mandate, the functions currently performed by the Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the fuel economy rulemaking conducted by the Department of Transportation, and responsibility for other relevant agency functions would be transferred to the EEDA.

NEEDA would be given $83 billion over the next 10 years to accomplish its goal. Schumer said that most of the funding for the Manhattan Project would come from rolling-back some of the federal subsidies for the major oil and gas companies, and devoting that money to new energy research.

Schumer also proposed a new tax credit to promote ethanol production in New York and a Blue Ribbon Commission to study updating state and local energy and environmental regulations in order to promote the production and use of alternative sources of energy.

In December 2002, Schumer unveiled a new consortium called "New Energy New York” with seven of the Capital Region's leading alternative energy organizations.  Now there are over 30 organizations statewide that look at ways that New York State’s high-tech companies can interact to address energy-related technology issues, bring attention to the state’s leadership on clean-energy resources, and provide benefits to each of the members through cooperation and coordination of marketing initiatives.