Obama would enact a $150 billion, 10-year plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and invest in renewable and alternative energy technology, including biofuels and clean coal.
How He'd Pay for It:
An auction of carbon credits from a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas pollution regulation.
What Sets Him Apart:
Creation of an independent, private Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund, funded with $10 billion for five years, to invest in technology development.
By Dan Shapley
"The truth is, our energy problem has become an energy crisis because no matter how well-intentioned the promise no matter how bold the proposal they all fall victim to the same Washington politics that has only become more divided and dishonest; more timid and calculating; more beholden to the powerful interests that have the biggest stake in the status quo.... We cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now."
Barack Obama, Oct. 8, 2007
Sen. Barack Obama has made an aggressive carbon cap-and-trade program the centerpiece of his energy and environmental agenda. He intends to raise $150 billion over 10 years from the auctioning of carbon pollution credits, and using the money to fund a variety of initiatives to boost energy efficiency, new alternative energy sources and fuels, and the revolutionizing of the American auto industry.
Obama earned the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters in his bid for the Senate.
The LCV Scorecard rates politicians on a scale of 0 to 100 based on their votes on environmental issues on which the group has taken a position. He scored 95 and 100 in his two terms in the Senate.
The 2008 Obama campaign has taken $94,278 from the oil and gas industry, ranking him 6th of 15 candidates and 3rd of seven Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Barack Obama's Energy and Environmental Platform at a Glance
These points are derived from Barack Obama's speeches, public comments and the energy and environmental policies outlined on his campaign Website.
- Cut carbon dioxide emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Employ a cap-and-trade system whereby companies would have to restrict pollution to within a national cap, and those that pollute less could sell credits to those who pollute more. Auction all credits.
- Create the Global Energy Forum modeled on the G8+5, which included all G-8 members plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa to focus on global energy and environmental issues, including first global warming. Ultimately merge efforts with the United Nations on climate change.
- Develop domestic and international incentives for forest conservation.
- Spend $150 billion over 10 years on biofuels and biofuel infrastructure, plug-in hybrid, renewable energy, low-emission coal plants and a digital electric grid.
- Create an independent, private Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund, with $10 billion for five years, to fund technology development. This fund will partner with existing investment funds and our national laboratories to finance new energy technologies.
- Double, to $6 billion, clean energy research and development.
- Expand the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program's weatherization grants, and establish a new dedicated fund to assist low-income Americans afford the higher energy bills that will come with a transition to new energy sources.
- Invest unspecified amount in workforce training and transition to jobs in the renewable and alternative energy sector, including a program directed at low-income youth.
- Use nuclear after looking into future solutions to "four key issues: public right-to-know, security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation."
- 25% renewable energy portfolio by 2025, and 30% of federal government by 2020.
- Order Department of Energy to update appliance efficiency standards.
- Mandate that all new federal buildings built after 2025 will be zero emission buildings. Make all new federal buildings 40% more efficient in five years, and make existing building 25% more efficient in five years.
- Set goal that all new buildings federal or not are zero emissions by 2030, and that the efficiency of existing buildings be boosted by 25%, and new buildings by 50%, in 10 years.
- Create a competitive grant program to fund local energy efficiency projects.
- Provide grants and other incentives to encourage states to change the way energy companies earn profits, so that reducing energy demand has as much economic value as supplying increased demand.
- End the use of incandescent bulbs by 2014.
- Increase use of corn ethanol to 60 billion gallons by 2030, invest in cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, and support the building of locally owned ethanol refineries.
- Buy all flex-fuel federal vehicles that can run on E85, a blend of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol, and mandate that all new cars made in America be flex-fuel by 2013.
- Double fuel economy of U.S. vehicles in 18 years by raising mileage requirements 4%, or about 1 mpg, per year. Offer "generous" tax incentives to automakers to modernize plants, and make standards vary by vehicle class.
- Establish a low-carbon fuel standard to reduce carbon 1% a year from 2010 to 2020.
- Expand tax incentives for car buyers who want to buy hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles by lifting the 60,000-per-manufacturer cap on buyer tax credits.
- Reform transportation funding and to make states consider energy efficiency in all transportation decisions, to encourage so-called "smart growth" transit-oriented developments that discourage suburban sprawl by building in existing cities and town centers, where there is less need to drive a car because home, work, recreation and school are nearby.
- Reform employer tax credits to "level playing field" for mass transit, which currently gets half the credit as a parking space.
- Reverse many Bush Administration executive orders and regulations related to the environment, including "$2 billion in cuts to conservation programs."
- Increase conservation measures for the Great Lakes
- Renew industry tax that had paid for toxic waste site cleanups when the polluter can not be identified or cannot afford the cleanup.
- Increase funding for National Parks and Wildlife Refuges
- Tighten regulations on factory farms
- Oppose energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.