The Obama Nation: Will it be green?

Now that Obama is going to be the next president and the US Congress will be dominated by the blue party, there were a lot of optimism in the green sphere as well as slight pessimism (sometimes diplomatically called cautiously optimism) in the chemical and manufacturing sectors.

According to ICIS news, there are high expectations from major environmental groups that the Obama administration will be in favor of tightening chemicals regulations as well as more legislation on climate and pollution control.

Their wish list for the new Congress includes among others a passage for a cap-and-trade bill; a chemicals control bill that is likened (or better) to the European Union’s chemical regulation Reach (registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals); and renewal of the special tax on chemical producers to fund clean-up projects at polluted sites around the country.Meanwhile, ICIS news also noted that the new administration will be a challenge to businesses such as chemicals, petroleum, electricity, coal, steel, and other manufacturing sectors that are energy-intensive.

Some of these industries, however, believe that the Obama administration will focus first on reviving the economy, and therefore will be more cautious on implementing any legislation (such as the cap-and-trade emissions bill) that will discourage business investments or trigger energy squeeze that in the end will affect not only the manufacturing sectors but consumers as well.

The American Chemistry Council even believe that the new Congress will be understanding of the US businesses’ need to be internationally competitive and will not be trigger-happy to pass on climate change bill that will endanger the welfare of the chemical industry.

“A lot of members of Congress are aware of the need for a very judicious approach on how re respond to greenhouse gas emissions, and I hope they will give consideration to the chemicals industry and the fact that we use a lot of natgas and petroleum as feedstock in products that we make and that contribute to energy efficiency,” the ACC president said in an interview with ICIS news.

While the Obama administration will do its delicate balancing act of choosing between the need for a climate change bill and the welfare of energy-intensive businesses, the alternative energy market, on the other hand, is already a sure winner if Obama will back up his platform of investing hundreds of billions of dollars within 10 years in the development of this industry.

The problem is if the new Congress, green as they may be, will back him up on that especially if the time frame for the development of more economical clean technology will not be realistic. There is of course the federal budget already deep in debt as well.

Even voters from States such as California and Colorado opted to opposed several environmental ballot measures on November 4 as they know mandates on implementing renewable energy and alternative fuel in the states mentioned will ultimately placed heavy burdens on consumer’s energy costs and taxes. You can read more about these measures in Wall Street Journal’s environmental blog.
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3 Responses to The Obama Nation: Will it be green?

  1. Pradeep 8 November, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    I have not read through the individual measures, but I think that the Prop 7 in CA was opposed even by the environmentalists. Additionally,
    Ambitious renewable-energy targets didn’t even win in San Francisco, where Proposition H lost. The measure would have mandated rapid increases in the city’s use of clean energy, including a requirement to be 100% renewable by 2040. But it also meant another stab at taking over the city’s private electricity company, a measure which never fails to fail. Even San Francisco’s famously green mayor, Gavin Newsom, opposed the measure.

  2. amorris19 11 November, 2008 at 1:42 pm #

    Secretary of Energy – suggestion
    Andrew Liveris, currently CEO for Dow Chemical, should considered for Energy Secretary in Obama’s administration. Liveris has been speaking heavily on the need for a “real” energy policy in the U.S. His recent Detroit Economic Club speech highlights an energy plan that focuses on energy efficiency and conservation, diversification of domestic supply, and accelerating development of alternative technologies (excerpt from speech below). Given his accomplishments at Dow in this arena globally, sure seems he’d be a great pick.

    Liveris DEC speech: “Four years ago we at Dow proposed a way out of this. We proposed an Energy Plan with three key components.

    The first is to pass comprehensive federal goals on energy efficiency and conservation. To me, this is common sense.

    Now, I realize I’m in Detroit and energy efficiency goals sound like code words for new fuel standards. It’s heartening to see all the Big Auto’s developing new models to consume less fuel.

    But what I’m mostly talking about here is improving the efficiency of buildings.

    Consider this: buildings are responsible for 40 percent of our total energy use, 70 percent of our electricity use and 38 percent of our CO2 emissions. A combination of federal incentives and local energy efficiency building codes could lower all of those numbers and significantly improve this country’s energy security.

    A very achievable 25-percent improvement in the energy efficiency of our economy would save this country the equivalent of all of its oil purchases from the Middle East and be the foundation for a secure energy future. It’s the first and easiest step to implement.

    The second component is to increase and diversify our domestic energy supplies. This is simple logic.

    We have the oil deposits here. We have natural gas deposits. And we certainly have the coal reserves.

    We should be accessing – responsibly and safely – every source we have to produce as much energy as we can at home.

    We also have the best technology in the world. Why not use that to build new, safe nuclear power facilities? Why not begin – today – an Apollo-like R&D project to solve the carbon capture and sequestration question so we can use – safely and responsibly – that 200-year supply of coal beneath our feet?

    The third component of our plan is to accelerate the development of all alternative energy sources – including renewables – and provide the financial support on research and development to get us there.”

    This is just a teaser – the entire speech can be found online and is worth reading –

    I understand that Liveris would be considered a very non-traditional choice, but why not?! We need someone who has the experience, who has the knowledge and who knows what to do with it!

  3. Doris de Guzman 12 November, 2008 at 10:01 pm #

    Hi Pradeep,
    It was opposed by environmentalist. The problem with regulators is that they want to immediately pass renewable energy bills that sometimes have unrealistic timeline and expectations. If government (state or federal or both) is unwilling to put in more grant money in cheaper clean tech R&D, then how do they expect to pass a mandate in using renewable energy within 10-15 years? Consumers are afraid of shouldering these extra costs even though they want to be green, and for sure, electricity company will pass on their green costs no matter what.

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