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November 20, 2008

Obama's Clean Energy Future Goals

Obama announced that he would introduce a federal cap and trade system, a similar cap and trade emissions trading scheme is already in operation in the European Union.

Strong annual targets would be established that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to return them to 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them by a further 80% by 2050.

$15 billion will be invested each year to catalyse private sector efforts to build a 'clean energy future'. Obama said there will be "investment in solar power, wind power and next-generation biofuels. We'll tap nuclear power, while making sure it is safe, and we will develop clean coal technologies." This investment would help generate five million green jobs.


It is not clear how nuclear power will actually fit into the plans. If there was only the introduction of an energy plan similar to some of the past congressional proposals and there are the penalties to coal from cap and trade then there would be a substantial increase in nuclear power build. The nuclear power additions would mostly be in southern states where utilities can ensure project financial success by recovering any cost overruns from adjusted (increased) fees to customers.

No matter what is done with energy, government at all levels help pay for it in some way and the people ultimately pay either in taxes or in energy bills. The choice then becomes what is the practical and deployable mix of coal or fossil fuels with air pollution or nuclear power or renewables.

Obama has also said contradictory things about coal.

Worldwide the latest energy trend forecast is coal is expected to increase by 2.6% each year until 2015. Nuclear power and renewables will increase but 2009 will be a slower year for all energy investment because of the credit crunch and financial problems. With coal use still increasing all forms of clean energy are needed.





FURTHER READING
Obama's transition tracking at change.gov

Obama's Energy and Environment policy transition team

Obama's Energy and Environment plans

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