US budget: Obama commits billions to emission reductions

US President Barack Obama has released his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2016, featuring a $450m spending bump for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a new $4bn fund to encourage states to cut emissions from power stations.

More than half ($239m) of the EPA funding boost will go towards the EPA’s Clean Power Plan which also tackles power plant emissions.

On renewable energy, the plan proposes to permanently extend a tax credit for wind energy and a tax credit for solar power, which together would cost the government $31.5 billion over the next decade.

The President also pledged $7.4bn for clean energy and efficiency developments at the Departments of Energy and Defence.

Released last night, (2 February) the budget reflects Obama’s commitment to climate change mitigation, which he reportedly views as “critical to his legacy“. The proposals have been now been sent to Congress for approval, where leading Republicans have already vowed to vote against it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – a Kentucky Republican – said: “You can guarantee that I will continue to fight back against this administration’s anti-coal jobs regulations on behalf of the Kentuckians I represent in the U.S. Senate.”

Budget boost

In a statement, the EPA said: “The 2016 budget prioritises actions to reduce the impacts of climate change, one of the most significant challenges for this and future generations.”

The Agency saw its overall budget boosted by $450m to $8.6bn, and will also administer a separate $4bn Clean Power State Incentive Fund which will “support state efforts to go above and beyond their carbon pollution reduction goals in the power sector”.

The overarching target for the EPA is to reduce emissions from the electricity sector – which accounts for a third of US emissions – by about 30% from 2005 levels within the next 15 years.

Obama’s second term in office has been highlighted by bold action on climate change, thanks to an emissions pact with China, a $3bn pledge to the Green Climate fund and most recently, a visit to India where talks were ‘dominated by clean energy and climate change‘.

Brad Allen

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