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Energy Department Boldly Goes Where No Man Has Gone Before

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, center, speaks with Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Mike Froman, left, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in the Oval Office on Sept. 16, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) Today's roundup of stimulus coverage:

Bacteria that make gasoline? Enzymes that counter global warming? Batteries running on solar power all night? The Energy Department is on it, reports The New York Times. The department is creating a new agency that will embrace these kinds of bold proposals, most of which will likely fail but a few of which could have a "transformative impact," Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the Times. The agency -- which was created by the Bush administration, but received its first funding through the stimulus -- will hand out $151 million in grants to small businesses, educational institutions and a few corporations to develop these kinds of ideas. You can check out some of the projects here.

Cheer up, America. Last week, White House chief economist Christina Romer said the largest impacts of the stimulus on the economy were behind us. Today, she clarified that seemingly discouraging statement. She explains that while the largest period of economic growth has already occurred, the largest effect of the stimulus on GDP and employment "occur well after the largest effects on growth rates."

Customs and Border Protection got a thumbs-up on its stimulus spending from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, reports The Washington Post. Back in August, the Associated Press reported that the department moved low-priority projects along the country's northern border ahead of more urgent needs. But a report by Richard Skinner, the Homeland Security inspector general, explains that the department spent money only on the ports of entry that it owns. The other 120 border stations -- including some of the high-risk locations the AP focused on -- are owned by the General Services Administration, which received $300 million for upgrades. (We reported on the AP's story here.)

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