In his annual state of the union address, President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed a five-year freeze on discretionary spending by the federal government, which he anticipated would reduce the U.S. deficit by almost a third over the next decade. However, the president was clear he would not allow budget cuts to come at the expense of additional funding requests for biomedical research and clean-energy technology. Specifically, Obama promoted a series of long-term goals for America which included a proposal to generate 80 per cent of the nation's electricity from clean-energy sources by 2035 and to provide access to high-speed rail for 80 per cent of Americans in 25 years.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu delivered an address of his own on Wednesday, endorsing the President's sentiment that the U.S. is in "an economic race to develop those technologies the world will demand, want and buy." Earlier in the day the White House announced that the 2012 budget proposal would include $8 billion for research, development and deployment investments in clean energy technology programs. The budget proposal increases funding in those areas by 1/3. One program that was singled out to have its current funding doubled in 2012 is the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The ARPA-E invests in high-risk, high-reward energy technology research and has already been used to support more than 100 projects.

Alberta already has a similar initiative of its own in place, the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund. The Fund is administered by the Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation, an independent organization that operates at arm's-length from government. Expenditures from the Fund are used for purposes related to reducing emissions of specified gases or improving Alberta's ability to adapt to climate change. Currently, sixteen projects with total funding of approximately $71 million are being funded by the CCEMC and include developing technologies that convert wasted energy to power within the oil and gas industry, experimenting with hybrid solar/fossil fuel energy systems, and the development of new carbon capture methods.

Looks like the U.S. has Alberta on its radar screen.