Way back in May 2007, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Act was created to promote outside-of-the-box thinking for energy and climate related research. The excitement quickly died, though, as the Bush administration lost focus and never funded the project (there was never even real office space created).
Now, though, ARPA-E is back on track. Funding in the amount of $400 million was explicitly set aside in the recent stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), and on April 27, President Obama annuonced at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.:
My administration will pursue, as well, comprehensive legislation to place a market-based cap on carbon emissions. We will make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. We will put in place the resources so that scientists can focus on this critical area. And I am confident that we will find a wellspring of creativity just waiting to be tapped by researchers in this room and entrepreneurs across our country. We can solve this problem.
In addition to funding new research, the President promised to further science education: "...my administration has set a goal that will greatly enhance our ability to compete for the high-wage, high-tech jobs of the future... we've provided tax credits and grants to make a college education more affordable." He also announced that the new budget triples the number of National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.
As Obama has done so in the past, he ended with an allusion to the Apollo Project for which John F. Kennedy spurred funding and motivated a generation to strive for; quoting Kennedy: "The challenge, in short, may be our salvation."