Now that we know who will occupy the White House, it remains for the pundits to forecast how the incoming administration of President-Elect Barack Obama will develop plans and implement them for our energy future. The attitudes, goals, and objectives of the Obama/Biden campaign included a detailed platform for energy issues in the immediate future, as well as more long-term efforts. So, perhaps the best way to look at the future of energy under the Obama administration is by looking at the platform itself. There are elements that could affect you personally and professionally, so following are edited excerpts taken from the campaign website (minus the political rhetoric). With this plan in hand, you can prepare to support or oppose any developments as they arise.
The Obama/Biden comprehensive energy plan confronts our dependence on foreign oil; addresses the moral, economic, and environmental challenge of global climate change; and builds a clean-energy future that benefits all Americans. Obama and Biden recognize that skyrocketing energy costs are taking a heavy toll on American families. To address the squeeze on consumers, they’re calling for the following: an emergency energy rebate funded by windfall profits taxes on oil companies, an aggressive plan to crack down on price speculators, and a swap of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help provide immediate relief from soaring prices for winter heating oil.
New Energy for America
Our nation is confronted by two major energy challenges – our dependence on foreign oil and global climate change – both of which stem from our current dependence on fossil fuels for energy. Obama and Biden believe we have a moral, environmental, economic, and security imperative to address our dependence on foreign oil and to tackle climate change in a serious, sustainable manner.
Implement Cap-and-Trade Program to Reduce Greenhouse-Gas Emissions. Obama and Biden support implementation of an economy-wide cap-and-trade auction system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80-percent below 1990 levels by 2050. A 100-percent auction ensures that all industries pay for every ton of emissions they release rather than giving these valuable emission rights away to companies on the basis of their past pollution. A portion of the receipts generated by auctioning allowances ($15 billion per year) will be used to support the development of clean energy, invest in energy-efficiency improvements, and help develop the next generation of biofuels and clean-energy vehicles. It will also be used to provide new funding to state and federal land and wildlife managers to restore habitat, create wildlife-migration corridors, and assist fish and wildlife to adapt to the effects of a warming climate. All remaining receipts will be used for rebates and other transition relief to ensure that families and communities aren’t adversely impacted by the transition to a new-energy, low-carbon economy.
Obama and Biden will use a portion of the revenue generated from the cap-and-trade permit auction to make investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and accelerate deployment of low-carbon technologies. The investments will focus on three critical areas: 1) basic research, 2) technology demonstration, and 3) aggressive commercial deployment and clean market creation.
Invest in a Clean Energy Economy and Help Create 5 Million New Green Jobs. Obama and Biden will strategically invest $150 billion over 10 years to accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale renewable energy, encourage energy efficiency, invest in low-emissions coal plants, advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, and begin transitioning to a new digital electricity grid. The plan will also invest in America’s manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world.
Convert our Manufacturing Centers into Clean Technology Leaders. Obama and Biden believe that American companies and workers should build the high-demand technologies of the future, and they will help nurture America’s success in clean technology manufacturing by establishing a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize and help Americans learn new skills to produce green products. This federal grant program will allocate money to the states to identify and support local manufacturers with the most compelling plans for modernizing existing or closed manufacturing facilities to produce new advanced clean technologies. This investment will help provide the critical upfront capital needed by small- and mid-sized manufacturers to produce these innovative new technologies.