Energy is a hot topic in Washington, and there are more than a few ideas on the table trying to convince consumers that Congress can save them money and make us energy independent now.  The truth is this is a long term problem that requires not only a major shift in consumer behavior, bu  more importantly, marketplace penetration of revolutionary advancements in energy technology.  That's a tall order - but one that a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E, could help to fill.

Despite the very valuable research already being done at DOE and in the industry, I am not convinced that our current energy R&D system alone will get us much further down this road.  Between bureaucratic inertia in federal research, private companies rightfully protecting their corner of the markets, and the immense scale of the marketplace, any revolutionary change (and there will have to be many) in our energy paradigm will require an unprecedented effort.  I believe we should start that new effort by giving the best and brightest the flexibility and resources to approach the problem in a whole new way.

There are models that we can look to in crafting that effort into a new program at DOE.  Congress can cherry-pick the best organizational and operational ideas from examples such as DARPA at the Department of Defense and In-Q-Tel at the CIA to do business in a way that breeds new life into the existing energy research efforts.

Some ask, "Do we really need a new agency for energy research?"  I say to that, "Are we more or less dependent on foreign sources of oil than we were 6 years ago?  Is it any cheaper to drive your car and power your home and business?"  I think we all know the answer to that.  So let's think about this a little differently.  Establish ARPA-E.