In his weekly address on Saturday (Feb. 6), US President Barack Obama stated that his new budget will double funding for clean energy research and development by 2020 in an effort to help private sector job creation and lower the cost of clean energy. This action is confirmation of a promise made in his 2016 State of the Union Address, to invest in the future rather than subsidize the past, and it is part of the “Mission Innovation” agreement reached in November by world leaders in Paris.
The proposal includes doubling investment in clean energy research and development to $12.8 billion within five years, with $1.8bn earmarked for developing batteries, $804m for nuclear power, and $560m for carbon capture and storage, according to Climate Home.
The new budget will be presented to Congress on Tuesday (Feb. 9).
Another new proposal included in Obama’s budget plan – a $10-per-barrel oil tax to fund clean transport, was announced on Thursday (Feb. 4). The plan would increase US investments in clean transportation infrastructure by roughly 50% while reforming the investments already made to help reduce carbon pollution, cut oil consumption, and create new jobs. It would be gradually phased in over 5 years and funded by a fee paid by oil companies.
According to the Obama administration, noted benefits of the 21st Century Clean Transportation System plan include reducing carbon emissions, strengthening the economy, and making transportation easier. These benefits would be achieved while setting the US on a long-term path to achieving economic and policy goals, specifically “refocusing federal investment to enhance transportation options for American families”, “rewarding state and local governments for innovations that lead to smarter, cleaner, more resilient transportation systems”, and “accelerating the safe integration of autonomous vehicles, low-carbon technologies, and intelligent transportation systems into our infrastructure”.
Critics argue however that such an oil tax would be passed on to consumers via heightened gasoline prices, and of course, that it has no shot of being passed by the Republican-led Congress. This sentiment has been confirmed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) who stated oh his website, “Once again, the president expects hardworking consumers to pay for his out of touch climate agenda… The president should be proposing policies to grow our economy instead of sacrificing it to appease progressive climate activists. The good news is this plan is little more than an election-year distraction.”
(Image: President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Sept. 18, 2015. Photo credit: White House/Flickr)