Yesterday The Morning Measure highlighted some key elements of President Obama’s proposed transportation budget. Today we’re going to look at his proposals for energy but first wanted to point out a little breaking news (at least for planner folks): Florida Governor Rick Scott has just announced that he’s rejecting federal funds for the Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail line. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has indicated that funds for these projects must go to high-speed rail so now the major question is: which area will get the now available funding? California? The Northeast Corridor?
Now on to energy. Compared to the overhaul of transportation funding the proposed budget for energy-related issues is a little bit less exciting but we’ll try. In what is likely to be the basis of a major point of contention the President is asking Congress to get rid of tax breaks for oil and gas companies. As The Hill reports cutting these breaks “will save $3.6 billion in fiscal year 2012 and a total of $46.2 billion during the next decade.” The Interior Department in response to the tragic BP oil spill is doubling its budget for enforcement of environmental and safety regulations for offshore oil and gas drilling.
Innovation and research do very well in the President’s proposal as The New York Times reports with $8 billion for alternative energy R&D and loan guarantees for constructing nuclear power plants as well as $453 million in fossil fuel related programs “with a heavy emphasis on developing ways to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and refineries.” The budget includes funding for establishing three new Department of Energy “innovation centers” and an additional $550 billion goes towards energy programs supported by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) a new agency at the department modeled after the renowned DARPA program at DOD.
Lastly the President is making a major push to see his goal of 1 million electric cars on American roads by 2015. Obama cut funding for research on hydrogen fuel-cell and clean-diesel vehicles but turned the $7500 tax credit for buying electric cars into an at-the-point-of-sale rebate for electric vehicle purchasers.