President Barack Obama’s budget proposal includes a sharp increase in funding for clean energy, paying for part of it by cutting tax breaks and fossil-fuel subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industries. So reports Reuters.
The President’s spending plan for fiscal 2014, which starts Oct. 1, increases funding to green technologies by 40%. The budget increases spending on advanced vehicles by 75% to $575 million, with a fund disseminating $200 million each year for vehicle research. It increases support for biofuels by 24%. The administration will also spend 29% more than it currently does to help integrate wind and solar energy into the national electric grid.
The budget proposal is expected to receive a lot of opposition, particularly from Republicans, who, to date, have been critical of green technologies. Moreover, previous efforts by the Democrats to get rid of the $4 billion fossil fuel subsidies have not garnered enough votes.
Republican lawmakers in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives have dismissed the President’s green-tech proposals as wasteful and most beneficial to the companies receiving the public funds. They cite the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar panel maker that received governmental backing.
The spending increases on clean technology are in sharp contrast to the large cuts elsewhere in the President’s budget, on things like environmental protection and retirement benefits, but it shows clearly that renewable energy will continue to be a priority for Obama in his second term. Indeed, in its proposal, the administration called the funding increases a “testament to the importance of clean energy and innovation to the country’s economic future.”
Through funding initiatives like the $35 billion put into clean tech as part of the economic stimulus package of 2009, Obama has turned the Energy Department into a research and development powerhouse. The agency has already underwritten a variety of clean-tech projects, from automotive battery startups to efforts to turn “biofuels” like algae into the gasoline.
Since 2008, the U.S. has nearly doubled the amount of energy it generates from renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal power, and the administration hopes funding research in this area will result in more technological breakthroughs.
Not everything has gone as planned. Aside from Solyndra, the hybrid sports car maker, Fisker Automotive, received nearly $200 million in government loans and is now near bankruptcy.