U.S. budget boosts coal and nuclear power
Bush's budget request Monday cut funding for renewable energy, but increased spending for science.
A president's priorities become clearer at budget time, even if Congress eventually rearranges things entirely. And that's true about the place of energy and climate change in President Bush's spending plan for next year.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Coal and nuclear power see big boosts in the 2009 Energy Department budget request sent to Congress Monday, and Mr. Bush is again calling for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The budget favors nuclear and "clean coal" options over renewable power sources, McClatchy Newspapers noted.
"President Bush proposed large increases for nuclear energy and for capturing and storing carbon from coal-burning power plants in his 2009 budget requests for funding to combat climate change. At the same time, though, his budget would cut money for solar energy research and would provide only a small increase for other renewable-energy programs."
Clean-energy advocates might wince at the emphasis on coal, oil, and nuclear power. But a big chunk of the energy budget proposal is for finding ways to reduce coal's greenhouse-gas emissions. Reuters reports:
"Capturing carbon emissions from coal plants and socking them away in underground reservoirs was at the top of the [Energy] department's 2009 priority list. Carbon sequestration research received $400 million in funds, along with $241 million for demonstration projects."
The president also increased spending for earth-monitoring satellites, which are important for collecting information about global warming, including data on things like soil moisture content and ice packs.
The budget boost comes after several years of cuts in funding that the National Academy of Sciences had warned would make the US unprepared for "collecting vital information about global warming ." National Aeronautics and Space Administration sciences chief Alan Stern told the Associated Press:
"Think of NASA's blue logo as turning a little bit greener. We are amping up our emphasis on Earth sciences."
"Despite the president's more aggressive statements on fighting climate change, his budget request would reduce funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy – such as wind, solar, etc. The president gets much of that reduction by slashing funding – from $280 million to $60 million – for low-income households to 'weatherize' their homes with new windows, better insulation, and other efforts."
Many congressional Democrats, as well as community activists, are not happy.