Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Senator Obama On Energy, Environment & Climate

Oct 21: With the Presidential election just two weeks away, WIMS is focusing on the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates position on energy, environment and climate change. Yesterday, we outlined Senator John McCain's positions [See WIMS 10/20/08]. Today we will outline Senator Barack Obama's plans.

The centerpiece of Senator Obama's energy and environmental proposals is his "New Energy for America Plan." According to his website, "Senator Obama has been a leader in the Senate in pushing for a comprehensive national energy policy and has introduced a number of bills to get us closer to the goal of energy independence. By putting aside partisan battles, he has found common ground on CAFE, renewable fuels, and clean coal." Overall his plan calls for 5 Million "Green Collar Jobs" and "a bold new national goal on energy efficiency and American energy."

Senator Obama says his New Energy for America Plan will: "Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump; Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future; Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined; Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon -- on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America; Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025; and Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050."

In further detail, to implement the above goals, Senator Obama proposes to (1) Provide Short-term Relief by proposing to: Enact a Windfall Profits Tax to Provide a $1,000 Emergency Energy Rebate to American Families; Crack Down on Excessive Energy Speculation; and Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices. (2) Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela by proposing to: Increase Fuel Economy Standards; Get 1 Million Plug-In Hybrid Cars on the Road by 2015; Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles; Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard; Establish a “Use it or Lose It” Approach to Existing Oil and Gas Leases; and Promote the Responsible Domestic Production of Oil and Natural Gas.

(3) Create Millions of New Green Jobs by proposing to: Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025; Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source -- Energy Efficiency; Weatherize One Million Homes Annually; Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology; and Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline. (4) Reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions by proposing to: Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050; and Make the U.S. a Leader on Climate Change.

Under eliminating Mideast and Venezuelan imports, the Plan says: "An Obama-Biden administration will establish a process for early identification of any infrastructure obstacles/shortages or possible federal permitting process delays to drilling in the Bakken Shale formation, the Barnett shale formation, and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska." In addition to other items, the Plan also says, "Obama and Biden will increase fuel economy standards 4 percent per year while providing $4 billion for domestic automakers to retool their manufacturing facilities in America to produce these vehicles."

Under his plan to create millions of new "green jobs", the Plan says, "Obama’s Department of Energy will enter into public private partnerships to develop five “first-of-a-kind” commercial scale coal-fired plants with clean carbon capture and sequestration technology." In addition, Obama says he will work with stakeholders to facilitate construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline. He says, "Not only is this pipeline critical to our energy security, it will create thousands of new jobs."

On the climate change issue, the Plan says, "The Obama-Biden cap-and-trade policy will require all pollution credits to be auctioned (generating $15 billion per year), and proceeds will go to investments in a clean energy future, habitat protections, and rebates and other transition relief for families." Also, "Obama and Biden will re-engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) -- the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem. They will also create a Global Energy Forum of the world’s largest emitters to focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues."

On the subject of nuclear power, the Obama Plan says, "Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our non-carbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option. However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation. . . As president, Obama will make safeguarding nuclear material both abroad and in the U.S. a top anti-terrorism priority. In terms of waste storage, [Obama & Biden] do not believe that Yucca Mountain is a suitable site. They will lead federal efforts to look for safe, long-term disposal solutions based on objective, scientific analysis. In the meantime, they will develop requirements to ensure that the waste stored at current reactor sites is contained using the most advanced dry-cask storage technology available."

In a separate, but somewhat overlapping "Environmental Plan," Obama promises to: restore the force of the Clean Air Act; listen to his scientific advisers on air quality standards; support full funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund; improve the quality of our nation’s lakes, rivers, and drinking water; strictly monitor and regulate pollution from large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs); develop the best strategies for protecting and expanding wetlands; push for the passage of the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act; support federal water conservation policies, particularly for Western states; support brownfield redevelopment, and tools for communities to eat healthy foods and expand livable, walkable neighborhoods.

In addition Obama says he will restore the strength of the Superfund program by requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of contaminated sites they created; make environmental justice policies a priority within U.S. EPA; expand research on toxins and provide the resources to clean up blighted communities; provide funding and emphasize the protection and restoration of our National Forests; provide increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund; increase funding for the Conservation Security Program and the Conservation Reserve Program.

Additional programs and proposals are included in the Environmental Plan. Also, Obama-Biden have a separate plan to crack down on excessive energy speculation; and a Wildfire Prevention Plan.

Access the overview of the New Energy for America Plan (
click here). Access the details of the Obama Energy Plan (click here). Access the details of the Obama Environmental Plan (click here). Access the Energy Speculation plan (click here). Access the Wildfire Prevention Plan (click here).