Obamas plan to win the clean energy future and the GOP plan to send us back to our dirty energy past

While the SOTU disappoints on climate, on clean energy it’s light years ahead of the GOP plan, as CAP’s Kate Gordon and Daniel J. Weiss explain in this Wonk Room cross-post.

In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to American innovation and ingenuity by proposing new investments in clean energy research, development, and deployment. This stands in sharp contrast to the Republican Study Committee, whose plan undermines American competitiveness by chopping away at key programs designed to leverage private investment in clean energy solutions for tomorrow.

President Obama’s clean energy plan would launch the United States into the 21st century by investing in high tech vehicles. This would protect people from pollution, cut foreign oil imports and create jobs. The Republican Study Committee would keep us chained to oil imports by ignoring cars of the future while eliminating investments in high speed rail.

Here a great chart laying out the side-by-side comparison of Obama vs. RSC:

Clean Tech Innovation and Public Health Protection
President Obama Republican Study Committee
Clean tech innovation and job growth “We’ll invest in”¦clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.””The President’s Budget will propose increasing clean energy technology funding by a third compared to 2010.”

“The President’s Budget will also “¦more than doubl[e] investments in energy efficiency and a more than 85 percent increase in renewable energy investment.”

Eliminates key energy innovation programs including technical assistance for advanced manufacturers and the Applied Energy Research program at the Department of Energy. See Chopping at the Roots of Innovation
Tax breaks for big oil “I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”He would “end the approximately $4 billion per year in tax subsidies to oil, gas and other fossil fuel producers.” Maintains $35 billion in tax loopholes for big oil companies.
Reduce foreign oil imports “With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”This would “reduc[e] oil consumption by 785 million barrels by 2030.” Eliminates oil saving alternatives to driving by cutting the New Start Transit program, funding for Amtrak, and the Washington D.C. Metro system.
Reduce foreign oil imports “Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car.” “Eliminate Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants.”
Clean electricity deployment “Clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling”¦ By 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all.” Continues to rely on old, dirty coal fired power plants. In 2009, all but eight House Republicans voted against American Clean Energy and Security Act that included a renewable electricity standard.”Eliminate the Energy Star Program.” The program provides consumers with information about the energy efficiency of appliances and other technologies, many of which are made in the U.S.
Protect public health “I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe.” Over 100 Republican representatives have cosponsored H.R. 97, which would make it impossible for EPA to limit carbon pollution from coal fired power plants, oil refineries or other sources to protect public health. There are 50 cosponsors of other, similar bills.

President Obama reiterated that he will “create or enforce commonsense safeguards” to protect Americans from harm. This should include requiring coal fired power plants and oil refineries to cut mercury, carbon, smog and other dangerous pollutants.

Kate Gordon, Vice President of Energy Policy, and Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress Action Fund

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15 Responses to Obamas plan to win the clean energy future and the GOP plan to send us back to our dirty energy past

  1. pete best says:

    Here we go, it always was a political argument that needed to be won.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    The Democrats are really to blame here, for their cowardice.

    It’s quite obvious that Republicans are all employees of the oil and coal industries. Too many Americans have not figured this out, due to incessant bombardment from Fox and Rush. The Democrats need only go to the people, pointing out who their opponents answer to.

    This will earn the Democrats more power, but they appear to be too timid to give up their own entanglements with fossil fuel industries. This is both stupid and wrong, and we shouldn’t have to wait for Independent Bernie Sanders to appear on MSNBC to tell us what is really going on here. Democrats could very easily make this call themselves, and the people will listen.

    OT, but why is the military budget considered sacred by both parties?

  3. Wes Rolley says:

    If both parties are ducking the climate change issue, it is obvious that the focus groups are telling them that this is what they have to do. If you have read anything by Frank Luntz you understand how they use focus groups to tune their message.

    So, who has done similar work on our side of the issue? I have not seen anyone. I guess that everyone is counting on truth willing itself out. However, that may be too late for many. Anyone got a good reference that I can use… This retiree can not afford to hire Luntz.

    [JR: Not what the focus groups say. This is just Axelrod’s and Obama’s continued wimpiness.]

  4. Artful Dodger says:

    Mike Roddy @ #2: You’re half right. Republicans and Democrats are both employed by Fossils. You want Blame? Look at the Supreme Court, another wholly owned subsidiary of the Status Quo. Luckily, as China greens and America subsides, we will be dragged into the future. Doubtless kicking and screaming.

  5. GJM says:

    I love the chart. A good framework for writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. It’s fine by me if Obama stays away from “climate change” and talks about clean energy and energy independence if it gets the ball rolling. It’s not wimpy, it’s practical.

  6. Michael Tucker says:

    The thing is not a single public leader is concerned about the atmospheric CO2 concentration. No one is really concerned except a few activists compared with the rest of the public. No one cares that we depend on mostly Arab and African nations for crude oil. They do not care that many of these countries contribute to terrorist organizations. More people would rather boycott products from China than see America drastically reduce its foreign oil dependence. The only time anyone pays any attention is when gas prices rise; they act shocked as if they had no idea such a thing could happen. That is with a commodity that most Americans depend on for income; and they do not pay any attention. Gas at $3.50 a gallon is ok because it is not $4. After it gets to $5 we will be ok with $4.50…We are like the frogs slowly warming in a pot of water.

    The Presidents platitude to clean energy is just like the promises made by other presidents regarding clean energy. All we may see is a slight increase in the number of natural gas power plants being produced. Without a plan we are no closer to realizing clean energy than we were yesterday. The reason the “man-on-the-moon” speech actually went somewhere is because we already had a government agency in charge, they were already sending men into orbit, and the planning was centralized and coordinated. No such thing exists for clean electricity or a modern electric grid.

    Smoke blowing at its absolute best! The President did not disappoint me in the least. It was a good speech and, of course, no mention of climate disruption; the evil that cannot be voiced.

  7. Rebecca says:

    OK everyone, let’s stop talking to each other and start talking to the President and our congresspeople. I just wrote O. a letter. He needs to get on TV with his girls, doing some simple science at home, to demonstrate how AGW works and why it’s a problem. He’s going to have to take the education of the people into his own hands. Exhort him to do this! Maybe he will take a risk.

  8. Anne says:

    Re: the pledge:

    “I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies….He would “end the approximately $4 billion per year in tax subsidies to oil, gas and other fossil fuel producers.”

    Good luck with that. Unless campaign finance reform comes first, the oil companies and their lobbyists will continue to eat our lunch. I hope he has a real plan to do this, one that has teeth. If not, well, he’s just
    smokin’ somethin’

  9. Nell says:

    But in his three such addresses since becoming president, he has on average made fewer mentions of climate change or the environment than Bill Clinton or even George Bush.

    “Clearly they have decided climate change is a no-go area,” Hope said.

    The White House has also removed reference to climate change from its website.

  10. Chris Winter says:

    And then there’s Paul Ryan’s tax/revenue plan. I heard yesterday that he’s a numbers wonk, which is why he was chosen to present the “rebuttal” to the President last night.

    Well, I think that assessment might have to be revised. His plan would reduce federal revenues by 182 billion compared to the President’s, while raising taxes on the lower 95 percent of Americans. This is a plan he apparently worked up months ago, based on this PDF which dates from March 2010:

  11. 1. The chart above says RSC would continue $35 billion in oil subsidies, and Obama would eliminate $4 billion. Why not eliminate all $35?

    2. Ethanol v. Oil subsidies. I’ve been trying to nail down how much federal oil drilling/production subsidies add to price of 1 gallon of GAS (assume a $3/gal pump price) and compare that with how much the federal AGRICULTURAL subsidies would add to the price of 1.5 gallons of ETHANOL (which should cost $4.50 at the pump). Since ethanol has 2/3 the energy it takes 1.5 gals. to match 1 gallon of gas. I know about the 50 cent per gallon direct ethanol subsidy. But has anyone seen a comparison of oil/ethanol that adds indirect subsidies–R&D, corn price supports,etc.–to the pump price?

  12. Ziyu says:

    @ #11 Madcitysmitty, I think it meant $35 billion over 10 years. So Obama’s $4 billion annually would be $40 billion over 10 years.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I agree with Artful Dodger #4, the Democrats are superior to the Repugnants, but only marginally and only, thus far, on paper and rhetorically. As he says, they are both, as are all the other organs of power in the US, beholden to the money power that rules in all capitalist economies. That a significant fraction of this money power may have decided not to condemn their children and ours to horror, perhaps explains the sudden turn to sanity in sections of the MSM. I believe Adam Smith said that ‘There is a great deal of ruin in a nation’ meaning it takes quite an effort to stuff things irreparably. Unfortunately he was not cognisant of the ecological ruin awaiting us a couple of centuries down the track. Marx, coming later, saw the ‘metabolic rift’ between capitalism and Nature, but I assume he expected the revolution to fix that. ‘From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs’ sounds eminently ecologically sustainable to me. ‘Democratic capitalism’, being inherently self-contradictory, is not, I believe, up to the task that faces us. This is one crisis that is only going to be solved by collective action, because we are all in this together.

  14. Leif says:

    Time to trot out my solution just because I see no efforts from the GOBP.
    The price of power needs to be indexed to the cost of all social services. From the military to health care to street sweeper. The whole shebang. Fossil Fuels are a national treasure in that they belong to the nation and not the first person that can harvest them the quickest. If they are to be burned they must be saddled with the external costs to humanity. Then they get to play on a level playing field. In conjunction, the Nation needs to maximize “Point of Use” power production so each American that has renewable resources can have a cash cow in their yard or on their roof. (Current Military research can be helpful here.) No war the price of energy comes down. Healthy population the price of energy comes down. Taxes would be nonexistent. NO IRS! Labor costs will come down as the worker will not be burdened and thus our manufacturing will become more competive on the world market, improving the trade balance. . There would be NO NATIONAL DEBT! Everything would be payed up front. Energy would become the world currency. Renewable energy, would have the highest return on investment and thus prevail. Saving energy would be cash in your pocket. Waste energy and at least you are paying social costs, not leaving a mess for our kids to clean up. It would no longer be a world of “have’s” and “have not’s”.

    And I may as well take a safety break here.

  15. Leif says:

    Another benefit to the above “as yet to be named economy” would be zero unemployment! Why? you ask? Fully 20%+? of a workers earnings go to pay taxes alone. Add in health insurance etc… That expense is all taken care of so the worker needs to work shorter work weeks! More family time. Garden time? Cost of “operation” is way down because there are no middle men. Hell it would be far better to give all the bankers a retirement like us and cut them out of the loop. Let them grow old and die off? Like so much dandruff, but I digress. We got serious business to deal with. With 100% employment crime would come way down, in turn freeing up law enforcement budgets including prisons. In fact I would envision that prisoners would have a much easier time assimilating into 100% employment. A huge savings to society in itself. Every where you look savings accumulate.

    Paid for by GREEN ENERGY for ever.

    WE just got to keep it clean.