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Obama Budget Erases Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Ramps Up Nuclear Spending

Clean Energy Comes Out a Winner

By Stacy Morford

Feb 1, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama proposed a today that would begin to tip the scales away from fossil fuels and toward greater government investment in clean energy.

It would eliminate several fossil fuel subsidies, a move expected to generate about $36 billion for the federal government over the next 10 years, and increase clean energy research and development spending by about $6 billion.

To sweeten the deal for Republicans and fossil fuel-state Democrats, the president piled on loan guarantees for nuclear power and reiterated his support for a nuclear revival, more off-shore drilling, and “clean coal” technology, which was heavily funded through the recovery act last year. In addition, the new budget offers only a passing reference to a future cap-and-trade program, describing it as carbon neutral rather than assuming it would generate revenue.

Whether Congress can carry through on the president's recommendations remains to be seen, however.

Obama pushed for similar cuts in fossil fuel subsidies last year and got nowhere in Congress.

In September, he made eliminating fossil fuel subsidies worldwide a top issue for the G20 when it met in Pittsburgh. At the meeting, the  to phase out those subsidies in the medium term, declaring:

“Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.”

U.S. leadership on subsidies now could encourage other countries with far higher fossil fuel incentives, some in the hundreds of billions annually, to follow suit, the administration said. The effect on greenhouse gas emissions could be significant: An OECD-International Energy Agency released last fall determined that ending fossil fuel subsidies in the emerging economies and developing countries could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2050 while increasing investment in cleaner energy.

In the United States, the president's proposal to eliminate 12 tax breaks for oil, gas and coal would free up tens of billions of dollars. That could be a selling point for Congress this year with so much attention focused on the federal deficit and the president declaring a spending freeze on much of the government, said Friends of the Earth spokesman Nick Berning.

“The climate this year seems more ripe to get rid of these giveaways to oil and gas,” Berning said. “It makes sense politically and as policy.”

The fossil fuels industry has long benefited from federal subsidies, including about worth between 2002 and 2008, according to the Environmental Law Institute.

The industry has become so accustomed to those tax breaks and federal incentives (oil and gas started receiving subsidies in and coal in ) that its leaders quickly condemned today’s budget proposal as new taxes on them. President Jack Gerard declared the new budget would mean “fewer American jobs and less revenue at a time when we desperately need both.”

In response, the Sierra Club points to Exxon’s latest : The oil giant’s revenue was up $5 billion last quarter to $89.8 billion, with oil prices climbing.

“At a time of rising gas prices — and rising oil company profits — there's simply no excuse for continuing these wasteful and unnecessary giveaways,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope.

Subsidies for fossil fuels

The fossil fuel subsidy numbers from the Environmental Law Institute may actually be too low.
According to a study- Koplow's 2007 report to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development:

"Estimating U.S. oil and gas subsidies is very challenging. Subsidies rarely involve cash payments. Instead scores of U.S. government agencies and departments create hundreds of programmes to support the U.S. energy sector. And there is no requirement for the federal government to keep track of all this. Energy subsidies are often simply hidden from public scrutiny."

His numbers for 2006 are $49 billion annually for fossil fuels, with $39 billion of that going too oil.

Nuclear Waste(ful)

Nuclear power is anything but clean, and it is certainly not affordable. Just ask the South Texans who are fighting the uranium mining in their back yards - or the Navajo or Hopi Native Americans who are doing the same (along with the coal mining and burning). Or how about the enrichment facilities that produce massive amounts of depleted uranium and other toxic, hazardous and radioactive waste? How about the coal plants that have to power these enrichment facilities, and the other ecological footprints of nuclear fuel mining, transport, use and disposal? I haven't even mentioned the high-level rad waste from the reactors yet.

Add to that the fact that nukes are the most expensive form of power generation - they always go massively over budget and overtime. The only way they are ever built is through massive government subsidies - Wall Street won't touch them, and as we've seen Wall Street isn't particularly fussy about sound investments lately...

The latest nuke proposed in Texas went from a proposed $5.4 billion price tag to over $18 billion, and that's before they had even obtained any permits or broken any ground. Obama should stop these incredibly wasteful and pointless subsidies for nuclear - and "clean" coal too for that matter. We are more likely to see energy generated by unicorns before we see coal technology that is even remotely "clean."

great news in the budget!

Excellent news in the Obama Administration’s 2011 budget. Slashing tax benefits for oil and coal companies while dedicating more funds to nuclear and clean energy sectors: let’s hope lobbyists don’t stall or derail this important shift in federal funding directives from fossil fuels to green tech.

Nuclear Power Plant Contribute to Global Warming

Nuclear power plants produce heat. This heat is created by the destruction of the nuclear fuel in the nuclear reactor. The nuclear plant converts only one third of this heat into electricy. The rest of this heat, known as waste heat goes into the environment. The heat transfered water, which then becomes hot and is sent to cooling towers to let the heat go into the air. Some nuclear plants,however, dischage this hot water directly into tghe rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world. This discharge of hot water into the rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world increases their temperature on a continuous basis.

* It must be remembered that this heat energy that is produced by these nuclear power plants is brand new heat energy, that never existed before, and is continously being added to the environment. Nuclear power plants are right now increasing the effects of global warming.

Got Water? Nuclear Power Plant Cooling Needs

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