JULY 30, 2009
A Democratic U.S. congressman has quietly introduced legislation to allocate tens of millions of dollars to create a social and behavioral research department to identify factors that influence energy consumption.
The new, covert social and behavioral sciences research program is to be mounted at the Department of Energy, according to the measure (HR 3247) proposed by Washington State Congressman Brian Baird. Its pressing mission will be to better understand social and behavioral factors that influence energy consumption and acceptance as well as adoption rates of new energy technologies.
The valuable social and behavioral data will be shoved down the respective throats of Energy Department divisions which will be forced to integrate its results into their work. This will, in turn, improve the design, development, demonstration and application of the nation’s energy technologies.
Patterns of energy consumption among individuals, households and businesses will evidently be scrutinized and psychoanalyzed as will their decisions to implement energy conservation measures. Social and behavioral factors that may contribute to the situation will then be addressed.
If all this sounds like a crock, just take a look at what it will cost U.S. taxpayers. The legislation authorizes appropriations of $10 million a year for each fiscal year from 2010 through 2015. This type of publicly financed, touchy-feely program already exists at federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services but seems inappropriate and downright outrageous at a cabinet-level agency responsible for the nation’s energy security and nuclear weapons program.
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