November 02, 2011

Gillibrand, Wyden, Kirk Push for $2 Million in Funding for U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperative Agreement

Gillibrand Has Led Fight for Funding, Which Fosters Innovation And Economic Growth In Both Nations, Strengthening U.S.-Israel Bilateral Relations

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) today urged the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development to allocate $2 million in funding for the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperative Agreement for FY2012, which is included in the House Appropriations bill. The debate in the Senate over funding starts this week. Senator Gillibrand has led the fight over the years ensuring that this critical grant program between the United States and Israel continues. 

Senators Gillibrand, Wyden, and Kirk wrote in their letter, “We write to you in support of the $2 million provided in the House FY2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to maintain the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperative Agreement. We understand that you are facing a difficult budget environment, which forces you to make difficult choices.  We believe that this is an investment worth maintaining – for the sake of U.S. jobs, our important bilateral relationship with our ally Israel, and the energy innovation this relationship produces… Congress should continue to support the funding of this successful model, which is not only important for our bilateral relationship, but beneficial to our economy and our security. I thank you for your consideration and support of this program.”   

To date, funding for the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperative Agreement have yielded advances in important areas such as energy grid management, biodiesel, and solar energy – creating numerous opportunities for American companies in New York and across the United States. 

Funding for the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperative Agreement has been allocated in the last three appropriation acts – FY2009, FY2010, and FY2011. Last year, Polytechnic Institute of New York and Holon Institute of Technology in Israel received $200,000 in funding for energy-efficient, large DC-gain switched-capacitor-based converters for alternative sources. 

Senator Gillibrand has led the fight to preserve the continuation of this important private-public collaboration for energy research and development initiatives. In a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan and Ranking Member Senator Robert Bennett last year, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “I strongly support the aim of renewable energy collaboration between the U.S. and Israel.  Our work with Israel, a world leader in green energy research and development, has great promise for the future of marketable alternative energy technologies… U.S.-Israel collaboration and the work of foundations such as BIRD and BSF have had a lasting and fundamental impact on our countries' economies and relationship.” 

The funds for this program will be administered by the United States-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) and the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), for renewable-energy research and development cooperative projects between the two nations. Since first appropriated, the U.S. contribution to this partnership has been matched $3 to $1 by the Israeli government and the private sector, making this a sound investment for the U.S. government. 

Businesses throughout the United States, including New York State, have benefited from the funding of scientific collaboration between the U.S. and Israel because it has served as a catalyst of innovation and economic growth.  In fact, New York as the second largest state recipient of BIRD grants, has attracted over 650 allocations. Senator Gillibrand believes that preserving this cooperative agreement is not only important for U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship, but beneficial for the United State’s economy and security. 

The Senators’ full letter to Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Ranking Member Lamar Alexandar is below:   

We write to you in support of the $2 million provided in the House FY2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to maintain the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperative Agreement. 

We understand that you are facing a difficult budget environment, which forces you to make difficult choices.  We believe that this is an investment worth maintaining – for the sake of U.S. jobs, our important bilateral relationship with our ally Israel, and the energy innovation this relationship produces. 

As you know, the Government of Israel has already devoted its matching share of the funding of this account, so that the U.S. contribution would leverage about $3 of Israeli government and private investment for every $1 of U.S. Government funding.  The project supports research and development by the United States-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) and the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF).  

American companies throughout the United States have benefitted from the funding of scientific collaboration between the U.S. and Israel because it has served as a catalyst of innovation and economic growth. The sectors of cooperative research have included important areas such as energy grid management and biodiesel. 

Congress should continue to support the funding of this successful model, which is not only important for our bilateral relationship, but beneficial to our economy and our security. I thank you for your consideration and support of this program.