Obama 2012 budget: goodbye fossil fuel subsidies, hello clean energy funding

Obama 2012 budget: goodbye fossil fuel subsidies, hello clean energy fundingObama wants to create jobs in the United States, and his administration strongly asserts that green jobs will follow the money. His logic makes sense from a small business and research perspective because without startup funds or sponsorships it’s difficult to gain traction on a new project. He’s far from gaining agreement in Congress though, with several Republicans openly disagreeing on his approach. They point to existing jobs in the oil and gas industries that are currently made possible by the existing subsidies.

Interestingly, Obama’s budget cuts would also affect hydrogen fuel program funding, which certainly has its own potential to provide viable clean energy. In total the White House is looking for $36 billion in federal loan guarantees, $8 billion of which would be marked for clean energy -- and that’s a start. To catch up with the kind of spending China is doing in clean energy though, the U.S. may have to look harder.

Obama and Republicans in congress may disagree on the semantics of existing economic benefit and the future potential economic benefit of green jobs in this budget discussion, but China has already decided its course and is making that clear with hard cash. The U.S., on the other hand, seems to put much more importance on its military. In a report on 2011 budgets: “for every dollar spent on climate in 2008, the U.S. spent $94 on the military,” that’s compared to $2 or $3 spent on military for every dollar on climate in China, via Guardian.

While it’s good to see some emphasis on clean technology happening in next year’s budget, the overall scope seems thin. If the U.S. Government is intent on continuing to invest so much in its military, perhaps we need even more technological advances that provide everyday efficiencies to arrive from that sector. When it comes to clean energy, the long term benefit is critical to keep in mind, and sometimes that means short-term challenges.