Climate

Obama’s New Budget Puts Billions Toward Fighting Climate Change

CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

In this June 25, 2013, file photo President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his brow during an ambitious speech about climate change under a steaming hot sun at Georgetown University in Washington.

The White House’s $4 trillion budget proposal released Monday includes more than $10 billion for programs to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of global climate change, a signal that President Obama will make climate a central theme of his last two years in office.

The funding is spread across multiple agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, and includes proposals for renewable energy development, disaster preparedness, and support for the Clean Power Plan — Obama’s ambitious attempt to reduce carbon emissions from the electricity sector.

“The most costly thing we can do is to do nothing,” EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg said on a press call Monday. “[This budget] makes climate action a priority.”

One of the most aggressive climate-related proposals in Obama’s budget is a call to reform how different kinds of energy companies pay taxes. Under Obama’s proposal, oil and gas companies would be stripped of billions of dollars in tax incentives they receive — $44 billion over a decade, to be specific — and renewable energy companies would reap the benefits. Over that same decade, the budget would allocate $31.5 billion toward permanently reinstating the Production Tax Credit for wind energy, and permanently extending the 30 percent investment for solar energy systems.

Another program Obama is calling for is a $4 billion Clean Power State Incentive Fund, which the EPA said would provide funding to states that want to go “above and beyond” their carbon pollution reduction goals set out under the Clean Power Plan. Under that plan, each state has a unique carbon reduction target depending on how much carbon it currently emits, among other things.

The White House’s proposed budget also includes $7.4 billion to fund research and development for clean energy and climate science — nearly a $1 billion increase from the $6.5 billion in similar funding that Congress enacted for this year’s budget. Among other things, the funding would be used to develop technologies to capture and store carbon emissions, prevent leaks of methane from natural gas operations, and strengthen the electricity grid so that it can use more renewable energy.

President Obama’s budget also includes $1.29 billion for its Global Climate Change Initiative , a fund that provides climate assistance to developing countries, and a $184 million increase for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood preparedness program.

Perhaps the most important thing worth noting, however, is that this is just a proposed budget which eventually has to be approved by Congress. And considering the pro-fossil fuel development, climate science-wary agenda of the new Republican-led legislature, this doesn’t seem likely. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) immediately released a statement after the budget was proposed on Monday, specifically lambasting the administration’s “anti-coal” efforts to cut down on emissions and thereby leave coal miners out of work. Interestingly enough, the proposed budget also includes $55 million for job creation efforts for out-of-work coal miners.