The economic recovery plan agreed to by House and Senate negotiators will “pump billions of dollars into ‘smart grid’ projects,” renewable energy, energy efficiency, and public transit. The conference report will make an excellent start on President Obama’s pledge to rebuild our nation with a green economy. The Wonk Room has noted a number of threats to that pledge, loopholes and subsidies stuck in the Senate version of the bill that would keep pushing us down a dirty path. It looks as if the the conferees did an excellent job of cleaning up this critical legislation:
The Senate version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act adds $2.2 billion to the House’s generous allocation of $2.4 billion for the development of “carbon capture and sequestration technologies” (CCS). Furthermore, the Senate language adds a dangerous loophole that changes a potentially green investment into subsidy for a dirty industry.
CONFERENCE REPORT: CCS funding is now $3.4 billion, and the loophole has been eliminated.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS SUBSIDIES
Buried in the Senate version of the economic recovery plan — despite the “heroic” efforts of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and other centrists to “fr[y] the bacon” — is an allocation of $1 billion to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for “weapons activities.” This provision, divorced as it is from any semblance of national security strategy, should be eliminated.
CONFERENCE REPORT: Nuclear weapons funding has been eliminated.
NUCLEAR PLANT SUBSIDIES
On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase nuclear loan guarantees by $50 billion in the economic recovery package (S. 336). This staggering sum “would more than double the current loan guarantee cap of $38 billion” for “clean energy” technology.
CONFERENCE REPORT: These loan guarantees have been eliminated.
We can’t get out of the dirty hole of dependence on polluting energy if we don’t stop digging, and it looks like the conference negotiators recognized that fact.