Green economy on the budget

I’ve been trying to avoid politics as I’m getting tired of hearing about bailouts, stimulus package and White House budget on all newspapers, internet, TV, radio, etc.

But that’s just me.

For work-related purposes, here’s what’s going on in Washington that will affect the clean technology industry and maybe even green chemistry R&D within the next several years.

In President Obama’s proposed budget that came out last week, he promised to increase funding on renewable energy projects, some, in the expense of greenhouse gas emitters, oil companies and toxic chemical spillers. Specific details were not put out yet until the president’s final proposal in April.

Under the Department of Energy’s proposed budget, funding will increased on renewable energy production primarily from tax breaks and loan guarantees. The budget also increases funding for energy conservation in government buildings and private homes as well as provide more money for cleaner coal-fired power plants, and to transform the country’s aging electric grid.

For the Department of Interior’s budget, increased funding is expected for park maintenance, protection of endangered species, assessing climate change impacts on fish and wildlife, and over $50m investments for renewable energy projects promotion.

It also proposes a new excise tax on offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico beginning 2011, terminating payments to coal-producing States that no longer need funds to clean up abandoned coal mines, and increasing fees, royalties and rates to oil companies for processing oil and gas drilling permits on Federal lands.The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would receive $1.3 billion for new weather satellites and climate sensors, as well as research into climate and ocean research.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would refocus its efforts on global climate change research as well as fund aeronautics research to address aviation safety, air traffic control, noise and emissions reduction, and fuel efficiency.

Research funding also would increase for the National Science Foundation to make climate change research and education a priority. It is expected to established a climate change education program to help develop the next generation of environmentally engaged scientists and engineers.

Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to have a 34% increase in funding and will be devoted mostly to clean water projects, a Great Lakes restoration initiative, and increases in regulatory, research and enforcement activities. The budget will also provide a $1.1bn in grants to States and Tribes to administer environmental programs.

The big buzz on the EPA’s budget however is the planned emissions reduction program through a cap and trade system. The program is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14% below 2005 levels by 2020, and 83% below 2005 levels by 2050.

Under the plan, 100% of pollution permits will be auctioned, meaning no sector of the economy will be exempted from paying for the right to emit carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming. The program is expected to gain $150bn in revenue which will be invested in clean energy projects within 10 years starting in fiscal year 2012.

The EPA budget also includes a $19 million increase for a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission inventory and to work with affected industry sectors to report high-quality GHG emission data.

Another revenue proposal under EPA’s budget is to reinstate excise taxes that expired in 1995 and will collect over $1 billion to clean up toxic, contaminated sites within the Superfund program. The reinstated taxes will not begin until 2011.

Leave a Reply