Senator Rick Scott is demanding answers about reports that the Department of Energy allowed an innovative battery technology, developed using millions of American taxpayer dollars, to be transferred to a Chinese company.
Sen. Scott noted that the issue is even more troubling because the “DOE reportedly allowed this license transfer to a Communist Chinese company while several American companies have been unable to receive authorization from the agency to manufacture the batteries domestically.”
The Republican sent letters addressed to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Director Asmeret Asefaw Berhe and Under Secretary for Science and Innovation Geraldine Richmond.
“After millions of our federal dollars were spent to support the work of U.S. scientists, researchers, and engineers in developing the vanadium redox flow battery, your agency permitted the sub-licensure and subsequent license transfer of that technology to a Chinese company based in Dalian, China,” the senator said in the letter.
Sen. Scott continued, “even worse, the Department of Energy apparently allowed this license transfer to the foreign company while several U.S.-based companies have been unable to receive authorization from your agency to manufacture the batteries domestically. This is not only an unconscionable waste of U.S. resources and innovation that will now benefit a foreign adversary, it is apparently a violation of the Department of Energy’s own licensing rules.”
“It is well known that the Chinese Communist Party routinely engages in various acts of corporate espionage and intellectual property theft to gain competitive advantages against American companies and institutions,” the letter added. “However, such nefarious actions are unnecessary if your agency is grossly negligent in safeguarding U.S. taxpayer investments in innovative technologies and fails to perform appropriate due diligence when reviewing sub-licensing and license transfer requests.”
The lawmaker asked Berhe and Richmond to answer a myriad of questions, including “is the review process for sub-licensing requests the same if the applicant is a foreign-based entity?” and “how many foreign entities granted a sub-license by the Department of Energy are based in China?”
The senator also asked, “what other federal agencies are consulted, if any, before a license transfer request is granted to a foreign entity?” and “who is held accountable if a Department of Energy-funded patent or license violates U.S. manufacturing requirements articulated in the Department of Energy’s rules and regulations?”
The questions concluded with, “how will the Department of Energy ensure that taxpayer funded research will no longer be licensed to foreign entities who violate U.S. laws?”
Sen. Scott said that the American people “deserve a full accounting of how this was allowed to happen” and asked for a response to be provided no later than November 11, 2022.