Friday, January 18, 2008

PART 3 - Barack Obama’s Energy Plan: Invest in a Clean Energy Economy and create American jobs

Barack Obama will use some of the revenue generated from the cap-and-trade permit auction to invest in climate-friendly energy development and deployment.

This will transform the economy and create millions of new jobs.

Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid.

A principal focus of this fund will be devoted to ensuring that technologies that are developed in the U.S. are rapidly commercialized in the U.S. and deployed around the globe.

There are three critical steps in achieving the necessary revolution toward low carbon energy production:
  1. Basic Research;
  2. Technology Demonstration and
  3. Aggressive Commercial Deployment and Clean Market Creation.
Obama has specific plans to enhance each of these critical steps in the technology development process:

(1) Increase Investment in Basic Research and Human Capital.
  • Invest in Basic Research: Obama will double federal science and research funding for clean energy projects including those that make use of our biomass, solar and wind resources. At present, the federal government spends over $3 billion per year on all energy innovation efforts. While this may seems like a significant sum, it is much less than what we spent in the late 1970’s when adjusted for inflation, and is less than the pet food industry invests in its own products. We must do better. Obama will double our nation’s commitment to energy R&D and rely more heavily on the tremendous resources and ability of our national laboratories, universities and land grant colleges which have significant expertise in rural sources of renewable energy.
  • Invest in a Skilled Clean Technologies Workforce: Transitioning to a clean energy economy represents a tremendous opportunity for American workers. Barack Obama will use proceeds from the cap-and-trade auction program to invest in job training and transition programs to help workers and industries adapt to clean technology development and production. Obama will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable jobs.
Barack Obama also believes the transition to a clean energy economy holds special promise for
low-income communities and families, which are poised to shoulder a disproportionate share of
the burden of global climate change.

To combat this problem, Obama will create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth. This program will provide youth participants with energy efficiency and environmental service opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in their communities, while also providing them with practical skills and experience in important career fields of expected high growth employment.

The program will engage private sector employers and unions to provide apprenticeship opportunities. Participants will not only be able to use their training to find new jobs, but also build skills that will help them move up the career ladder over time.

(2) Invest in Key Technology Development.
  • Develop the Next Generation of Biofuels: Barack Obama will work to ensure that advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, are developed and incorporated into our national supply as soon as possible. Corn ethanol is the most successful alternative fuel commercially available in the U.S. today, and we should fight the efforts of big oil and big agri-business to undermine this emerging industry. But it represents only a drop in the bucket of our energy demands and making ethanol from corn has some significant limitations. Today we produce about 5 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol per year while we use about 140 billion gallons of gasoline. Even if we are able to double – or even triple – production of ethanol from corn this will still offset only about 10 percent of our gasoline demand. There are also real concerns about bringing set aside lands into corn production as well as concerns about an increase in the use of pesticides, water use and upward pressure on the cost of food for people and livestock alike. These constraints reveal the scope and scale of our energy and environmental challenges. Obama will invest federal resources, including tax incentives, cash prizes and government contracts into developing the most promising technologies with the goal of getting the first two billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the system by 2013. Obama will also work to improve the national supply of advanced biodiesel. From here the Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Fund will speed the deployment of multiple facilities.
  • Expand Locally-Owned Biofuel Refineries: Less than 10 percent of new ethanol production today is from farmer owned refineries. New ethanol refineries help jumpstart rural economies. For example, it has been estimated that a 40 million gallon ethanol refinery will add up to 120 jobs, expand a local tax base by $70 million per year and boost local household income by $6.7 million annually. The economic development opportunities for advanced cellulosc ethanol technologies hold potential to revitalize rural communities across the country. Barack Obama believes we must ensure that local investment continues to play a significant role as the biofuels industry continues to expand and evolve. Obama will create a number of incentives for local communities to invest in their biofuels refineries, including expanding federal tax credit programs and providing technical advice to rural communities that are in a strong position to open their own refineries. Obama will also provide an additional subsidy per gallon of ethanol produced from new facilities that have a minimum of 25 percent local capital, and he will provide additional loan guarantees for advanced ethanol facilities with local investment.
  • Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology: Coal is our nation’s most abundant energy source and is a critical component of economic development in China, India and other growing economies. Obama believes that the imperative to confront climate change requires that we prevent a new wave of traditional coal facilities in the U.S. and work aggressively to transfer low-carbon coal technologies around the world. In the U.S. Senate, Obama successfully increased funding by $200 million for carbon storage in the fiscal year 2008 budget resolution. As president Obama will significantly increase the resources devoted to the commercialization and deployment of low carbon coal technologies. Implementing these technologies as soon as possible is vital to the transition to a clean energy economy and will help other nations dependent on coal reduce their emissions as well. In addition to addressing new facilities, Obama will work to ensure that existing coal facilities are retrofitted with carbon capture and sequestration technology as soon as it is commercially available. Obama will use whatever policy tools are necessary, including standards that ban new traditional coal facilities, to ensure that we move quickly to commercialize and deploy low carbon coal technology. Obama’s stringent cap on carbon will also make it uneconomic to site traditional coal facilities and discourage the use of existing inefficient coal facilities.
  • Safe and Secure Nuclear Energy: Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our non-carbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table. However, there is no future for expanded nuclear without first addressing four key issues:
  1. public right-to-know,
  2. security of nuclear fuel and waste,
  3. waste storage,
  4. and proliferation.
Barack Obama introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to establish guidelines for tracking, controlling and accounting for spent fuel at nuclear power plants.

To prevent international nuclear material from falling into terrorist hands abroad, Obama
worked closely with Sen. Dick Lugar (R – IN) to strengthen international efforts to identify and
stop the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction. As president, Obama will make safeguarding nuclear material both abroad and in the U.S. a top anti-terrorism priority. Obama will also lead federal efforts to look for a safe, long-term disposal solution based on objective, scientific analysis.

In the meantime, Obama will develop requirements to ensure that the waste stored at current reactor sites is contained using the most advanced dry-cask storage technology available. Barack Obama believes that Yucca Mountain is not an option. Our government has spent billions of dollars on Yucca Mountain, and yet there are still significant questions about whether nuclear waste can be safely stored there.

(3) Invest in Key Technology Deployment.
  • Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund: Barack Obama will create a Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund to fill a critical gap in U.S. technology development. This Fund will partner with existing investment funds and our National Laboratories to ensure that promising technologies move beyond the lab and are commercialized in the U.S. The risks and associated costs of commercializing a new energy technology often prevent critically important technologies from ever seeing the light of day. The gap between the lab and the marketplace is sometimes referred to as the ‘Valley of Death,’ because many technologies enter but few ever make it out the other side because of the prohibitive costs of building the first commercial-scale facility that processes that energy source. Currently, U.S. venture capital funding is doing an effective job promoting research and development stage, but far too often, technologies invented here in the U.S. such as wind turbines, solar panels, and compact fluorescent bulbs are commercialized overseas and then sold back to American consumers.
  1. The Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund will be modeled on the highly successful Central Intelligence Agency In-Q-Tel program. In-Q-Tel is a non-profit, independently-managed venture capital fund led by seasoned venture capital professionals to develop new intelligence technologies for the CIA. The first five years of In-Q-Tel funding led to 22 new technologies being used in 40 government programs. Coupled with an Obama Administration’s increased investment in renewable energy research and development, this Fund’s efforts to quickly deploy new technologies like cellulosic ethanol, carbon capture and sequestration, and other clean technologies like bio-based plastics will help ensure that the American economy and environment benefit from clean technologies in the next few years, as opposed to the next several decades. Obama will invest $10 billion in this fund for five years, and reinvest profits back into the fund.
  2. Production Tax Credit: Obama will also extend the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for 5 years to encourage the production of renewable energy.
  • Convert our Manufacturing Centers into Clean Technology Leaders: America boasts the highest-skilled manufacturing workforce in the world and advanced manufacturing facilities that have powered economic growth in America for decades. Barack Obama believes that America is at a competitive advantage when it comes to building the high-demand technologies of the future, and he will help nurture America’s success in clean technology manufacturing by establishing a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize and help Americans learn the new skills they may need to produce green products. Along with the increased federal investment in the research, development and deployment of advanced technologies, this investment will help spur sustainable economic growth in communities across the country.
(4) Set Standards to Allow the Market to Invest and Innovate

Obama will also establish new national standards to ensure less carbon intensive energy is used in our energy supply.

He will:
  • Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Barack Obama will establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) to speed the introduction of low-carbon non-petroleum fuels. The standard, which Obama introduced in the U.S. Senate with Tom Harkin (D-IA), requires fuels suppliers to reduce the carbon their fuel emits by ten percent by 2020. The Obama plan will help incentivize increased private sector investment in advanced biofuels and has a sustainability provision to ensure that this boom in U.S. biofuels production does not come at the expense of environmental conservation. The standard will reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2020. The LCFS is an important mechanism in ensuring that our efforts to reduce our oil dependence also reduce carbon emissions.
  • Require 25 Percent of Electricity to Come from Renewable Sources by 2025: Barack Obama will establish a 25 percent federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that 25 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal by 2025. This requirement will spur significant private sector investment in renewable sources of energy and create thousands of new American jobs, especially in rural areas. As an Illinois state senator, Obama cosponsored a measure to create an RPS in Illinois. And recently, Illinois signed into law a 25 percent RPS by 2025 measure modeled on Obama’s state senate RPS efforts.
  • Ensure the Federal Government Uses Renewable Sources of Electricity: Currently, there is a federal goal to obtain 7.5 percent of federal government electricity demands from renewable sources by 2013. Barack Obama believes that the federal government, the nation’s largest consumer of energy, must do better. As president, Obama will ensure that at least 30 percent of the federal government’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.
This effort will help create a reliable demand for renewable energy production, thereby incentivizing the private sector to increase its investment in renewable energy production.

---Taken from Barack Obama's Energy Plan, located at

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