Renewables In and Out of Obama Budget

Cindy Zimmerman

There are renewable winners and losers in the FY2012 budget proposed this week by President Obama.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the president has included funding in the budget “To promote the domestic production of renewable energy, we invest in renewable energy programs related to commercialization; research and development; education and outreach; and energy efficiency and conservation. We are also focusing our loans to rural electric cooperatives to support the development of clean burning low emission fossil fuel facilities and renewable energy deployment. Developing a nation-wide renewable energy industry will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in rural America, while helping us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and reducing risks to our environment.”

More specifically, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu says the budget includes $3.2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and $300 million in credit subsidies to support approximately $3-4 billion in renewable energy and energy efficient projects. Funding for renewable energy technology would increase over all by 70 percent, including $425 million to support the “SunShot” solar power initiative, $64 million for offshore wind farms, $59 million for geothermal power initiatives.

However, hydrogen energy and fuel cell research would be cut by about 40 percent, a move that the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) calls those cuts “misguided and harmful to American competitiveness.”

“After investing billions of American dollars and years of effort, we simply cannot walk away from our commitment to these critical technologies,” said Ruth Cox, president and executive director of the FCHEA. “Fuel cells are the microprocessors of the Energy Age and they are already transforming the energy network through distributed generation of clean, efficient and reliable power.”

In the good news category, Big Oil takes a big hit in the budget, eliminating some $3.6 billion in tax subsidies for the oil, coal and gas industries.

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