Obama on carbon caps and coal

February 24, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.

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President Obama’s speech to the nation tonight included a call for caps on greenhouse emissions and more money for research to limit those emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Environmentalists will be happy with the president’s focus on clean energy and climate change, but perhaps will start worrying about what Obama might — or might not — do about other aspects of coal, such as mountaintop removal. The president clearly isn’t on the same page as some citizen groups who argue that there isn’t any such thing as “clean coal.”

Obama said that energy innovation is one of the areas where America has fallen behind, and must rebuild to become a global leader again.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

The president said his new recovery plan would double the nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years.

We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history – an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But, Obama said, to “truly transform our economy, protect our security and save our planet from the ravages of climate change we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.”

Obama asked lawmakers to send him legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and “drives the production of more renewable energy in America.”

And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

More analysis from Climate Progress, Climate Wire, Talking Points Memo, Reuters, Behind the Plug, NRDC Switchboard, the Wonk Room.

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