On Obama's Climate, Energy and Transportation Budgets

On Obama’s Climate, Energy and Transportation Budgets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 27, 2009 CONTACT: Nick Berning, 202-222-0748

While Much of Obama’s Proposed Budget Is Compelling, Its Climate Policies Are Not Nearly Aggressive Enough

Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder responded today to the 2010 budget proposal released by the Obama administration: This budget includes smart policies and forward-looking investments that represent a substantial change in direction from George Bushs toxic legacy. But given the scope of the challenges we face, merely changing direction isn’t enough. Obama must demonstrate bold leadership and bring about sweeping change. By that measure, this budget succeeds in some areas, but in othersespecially global warmingit falls short. One of the best things about this budget is that it eliminates tens of billions of dollars in giveaways to Big Oil. Friends of the Earth has long opposed these giveaways, and its good to know that the oil and gas industries may soon stop feeding at the taxpayer trough. The budget also proposes a cap-and-auction approach to cutting global warming pollution. If Congress decides to cap emissions of harmful heat-trapping gases, the 100 percent auction of emissions permits Obama proposes is essential to avoid rewarding corporate polluters for their pollution. Another highlight is that the budget reduces funding for the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump to life support levels. This ill-planned and ill-conceived waste dump deserves to be zeroed out. This budget is the first step toward achieving that goal. The budget also increases funding for efficient and affordable transportation options like public transit and high-speed passenger rail, which would serve as a down payment on the lower-carbon transportation system we need for the future. We are particularly pleased by indications that the administration plans to work with Congress to fundamentally reform our nations current economically and environmentally unsustainable transportation policy. On the other hand, while all of these advances are laudable, they are not nearly enough to save us from climate destabilization. If we do not reduce our own pollution much more rapidly than this budget contemplates, and if we fail to direct substantial resources toward international solutions not included in this budget, we will run a risk of triggering irreversible climate impacts that devastate human civilization. This budget lacks any allocations for desperately needed and long overdue climate financing that addresses global warming in the developing world, where climate impacts are being felt first and worst. Funds are needed to assist countries in adapting to climate impacts, invest in clean energy technology, and protect forests. Without such funding, the U.S. will not be able to meaningfully engage in international climate negotiations, and without such engagement, the world will not be able to solve this problem. The Obama administration should direct substantial resources to funds under the auspices of the UN, and not the undemocratic World Bank, which continues to finance dirty fossil fuel projects. Additionally, the domestic pollution reductions over the next decade anticipated by this budget must be far more aggressive if we are to credibly engage in international negotiations. International negotiators are currently contemplating a 25-40 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020 for industrialized nations. These are responsible targets grounded in science, and the Obama administration should embrace them. While we were pleased to see funding for Yucca Mountain dramatically reduced, other funds in this budget could end up providing a massive bailout to the failed nuclear power industry. Title XVII Loan Guarantees are not the proper means of financing renewable energy projects. We are concerned that much of these funds could be diverted to dangerous new nuclear reactors. No money should be allocated to this program. ### Friends of the Earth (www.foe.org) is the U.S. voice of the worlds largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.