Clean energy, nuclear power get money in Obama's 2011 budget

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 01, 2010 20:10 hrs

President Barack Obama expects lawmakers to approve reductions in US greenhouse-gas emissions and is pushing for more investments in clean energy and nuclear power, according to the administration's 2011 budget released Monday.

Obama also plans to cut more than $40 billion worth of subsidies for fossil fuel producers, according to his budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins Oct 1.

The budget suggested that Obama remains committed to climate legislation that is critical to the US meeting any international obligations to curb its emissions but faces a tough road in Congress.

During the Copenhagen climate summit of world leaders in December, Obama proposed cutting US greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, dependent on Congress approving legislation which could achieve that goal.

The budget assumes revenues from a proposed cap-and-trade system that would force companies to pay for pollution, a plan that is resisted by many lawmakers. Money from cap-and-trade would be invested back into supporting clean energy technologies, reducing emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change.

As part of an effort to woo opposition Republicans to support the climate bill, the budget included an extra $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power plants that are still treated with some caution by environmental groups.

Obama last week tasked a new commission to make proposals within two years on how to better manage used nuclear fuel and waste. He said nuclear energy was key to weaning the United States off its dependency on foreign fossil fuels.

The United States generates about one-fifth of its electricity from nuclear energy, yet the country has not granted a permit for building new commercial nuclear power plants in more than two decades.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the administration's budget would 'spark new clean energy projects nationwide, including restarting the American nuclear power industry.'

In total, the budget includes $28.4 billion for the Department of Energy and $10 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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