Obama Pledges Billions for Renewable Energy Projects

By dancurranjr On March 29th, 2009

obamaBarack Obama declared the billions of dollars he is planning to spend on renewable energy projects off limits to the usual bartering over the next few weeks with Congress.

Obama, on the first day of a week-long blitz aimed at selling his ambitious $3tn spending budget, said that the $129bn that has been allocated for encouraging the use of solar energy, hybrid cars and other renewable energy projects would not be subject to any of the usual wheeling and dealing between the White House and Congress.

His pledge on clean energy came as the environmental protection agency made a potentially historic shift, telling the White House that global warming is endangering public health. It comes after years of resistance by George Bush.

The move by the EPA, could lead to a nationwide measures to limit carbon emissions. Defending his planned spending on renewable energy, Obama said today: “We can remain the world’s leader of exporting foreign oil or become the leading exporter of renewable energy….. We have known the right choice for a generation.”

He was speaking after meeting clean energy entrepreneurs at the White House in the morning. He told them he hoped they could help the country out of recession by creating 300,000 new jobs, end the US dependency on oil from the Middle East and elsewhere and combat climate change.

“At this moment of necessity, we need you,” Obama said.

Both Republican and Democratic members of Congress are growing increasingly sceptical about the scale of Obama’s budget and he faces a fight preventing Congress cutting it back, with his energy plans among the most vulnerable measures.

The White House, in a fact sheet issued today, said his budget will provide $75bn over the next 10 years to make permanent existing tax cuts for clean energy and that his $787bn economic stimulus package aimed at helping the US out of recession includes $39bn for clean energy projects and $20bn in tax incentives.

Jared Bernstein, a White House economics adviser, said Obama was prepared to negotiate details with clean energy entrepreneurs such those he gathered together today but not with Congress. He said the administration was going to stand very firm on clean energy because it was a campaign promise.

Obama is facing opposition to his budget from conservatively fiscal Democrats worried about the size of his spending plans and from Republicans opposed to his plans to penalise high pollution companies.

As part of his push to sell his budget, Obama is holding a prime-time television press conference tomorrow and is to meet members of Congress on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Obama today highlighted projects involving energy storage, super-efficient engines, cheap solar cells, advanced batteries needed for plug-in hybrid cars and microchips that help maximise energy savings.

Among projects on show at the White House were a light pipe that brings natural light indoors without consuming electricity and a window company that helps with energy savings. He said the latter had re-opened a disused factory in Pennsylvania and was taking on 100 workers.

In spite of Obama’s upbeat tone, the White House could face problems in spending all the money that it has put aside to encourage clean energy. Many renewable energy companies have been laying people off and T Boone Pickens’s vast wind farm plan for Texas has been put on hold.

Many of the weather insulation measures Obama is proposing will create jobs and reduce carbon emissions but many are low skill and offer only short-term employment.

SOURCE: Guardian.co.uk

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