Bill threatens to de-fund public energy research in Minnesota

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17 Responses to “Bill threatens to de-fund public energy research in Minnesota”

  1. VicqRuiz says:

    Completely agree.  Basic science needs to be publicly funded.  Companies that want to build things and make a profit (Tesla Motors, GE, Exxon) need to seek their funding in the private sector.

  2. IronEdithKidd says:

    Which members of this committee recieved large campaign donations from Xcel? 

  3. Purplecat says:

    Actually, I think there is something wrong with funding  research at Xcel. This looks like a naked example of crony capitalism, transferring funds from the public to a private company for the benefit of that private company (No mention is made of making the results of this research open to the public, is there?). This doesn’t just harm science, it harms all the taxpayers of Minnesota, and any companies competing with the one favoured by the legislature.

  4. kirkg says:

    “In times of tight government budgets”.  You’re off-base from the first sentence.  Gov’t budgets aren’t tight, they’re the farthest from it.  They’re bloated and floppy.  When you spend trillions on SocSec/Medicare/Medicaid/Wars, then yup, you’ll run out.  Why would one assume that because a budget is enormously huge, it can and should be huger?

    • SamSam says:

      The question is about whether or not governments should defund science. You seem to be trying to pick a different argument.

      If you’re trying to say that governments should spend less on some other things, like war, instead of defunding science, then you’d probably be in agreement with everyone else.

  5. Uncle Geo says:

    I’d say it was Neandertal thinking but those poor guys take all the hits. Read our fellow Minnesotan Shawn Otto’s Fool Me Twice to understand just how and why we’ve become a nation that turned our backs on reason and science and seem to be rushing headlong back to the dark ages.

  6. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Hmmm, six comments here, 37 on the new iPad.

    Best of luck Maggie… if I was within driving distance of Minnearctica I’d man the picket lines with you.

    • wrecksdart says:

       I get the same impression, Ito.  I guess our magically delicious technology has become the new coliseum that helps keep the focus off the issues that need sorting out.  Of course, energy research in the Great White North, much like many of the copyright posts on BB, are tangled, difficult concepts to think through and solve (if I can use that word).  I hope Maggie’s call to action reaches many local ears!

  7. taras says:

    I say we find this ‘Bill’ and teach him a lesson!  One guy shouldn’t have that much power

  8. meowdip says:

    I was a postdoc at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (a DOE lab) in Colorado.  Xcel funded my main research project which was pretty basic science and low payoff for them.  I was impressed until I was told by my coworkers that Xcel was funding the project as part of a court order.  They were caught dumping toxic waste and besides some fines the judge ordered them to fund renewable energy research.  I just searched Google for the court case and settlement but haven’t come across anything that looks right.  I’ll post it here if I can find it.

  9. B E Pratt says:

    And let us not forget this one. Bell Labs did a whole lot of fundamental research. First hint of the Big Bang, for instance. The development of  magnetic tape. Except that Bell SAT on this discovery for a full 50 YEARS! They were afraid it might hurt their bottom line. See, for instance:  http://www.neatorama.com/2010/11/26/how-att-shut-down-the-development-of-magnetic-tape/

  10. Snig says:

    Historians will point at nonsense like this being the sort of thing that caused the US to stop being the worldwide leader in technology and when it’s superpower began to fade.

  11. Ken Williams says:

    Here is the text of the bill:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S2181.0.html&session=ls87

    I don’t see anything explicit about funding Exel research or de-funding IREE though.  How does it work?

    • Ken Williams says:

      Upon closer reading, it looks like §§1(f) (“The account shall be managed by the public utility…”) transfers responsibility to Xcel.  Xcel would not decide projects, it would decide (with certain specified advisement) which projects to refer to the Public Utilities Commission for final approval.

  12. MRKiscaden says:

    The University of Minnesota is government funded. The U of MN is primarily a research institution that grudgingly teaches students as a condition of its state funding.

    Nothing would make me happier than to see the U of MN stop chasing research dollars and go back to its original mission: Teaching students.

    De-funding a single project does not mean the complete elimination of government funding.

    • Snig says:

      In research institutions, graduate students, postdocs and advanced undergrads learn to do science by actually doing science.  This is how this country makes scientists.  You can’t make research scientists without research.  It’s not a single project that’s being subsumed by a corporation, it’s a cluster of important projects that may have important ramifications for the entire energy grid of the planet.  There’s no good reason to make a present of that to one company.

    • Really? Because, if I were an undergraduate in the sciences, I would want to be taught by professors who were familiar with doing the job of being scientists. 

      One of the things you learn in journalism school: Learning your profession from teachers who haven’t actually practiced the profession in decades is not always the best way to prepare people for future careers. 

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