Obama 2016 budget urges emission cuts

Obama 2016 budget urges emission cuts

2015-02-02 13:00

Washington - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget proposes $7.4bn to fund clean energy technologies and a $4bn fund to encourage US states to make faster and deeper cuts to emissions from power plants, officials told Reuters.

Obama's budget, which will be published later on Monday, also calls for the permanent extension of the Production Tax Credit, used by the wind industry, and the Investment Tax Credit, used by the solar industry, the officials said.

Obama has made fighting climate change a top priority in his final two years in office. The White House sees it as critical to his legacy.

The investment in clean energy technologies would cover programs primarily at the Department of Energy and Department of Defence, the officials said.

The $7.4bn figure is an increase from the $6.9bn proposed in Obama's fiscal 2015 budget and over the $6.5bn enacted by Congress for this year.

Slashing carbon emissions

The administration is finalising controversial rules that will slash carbon dioxide emissions from power plants nationwide. The new fund would give states incentives to speed up that process or go further than their mandated cuts, the officials said.

"They have the opportunity to really ... set their sights higher and lock into an even more ambitious trajectory when it comes to clean energy," one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the budget's formal release.

States could qualify for the funding by making their targets early or going further than required.

They would then have access to money that could be used to finance clean energy technologies, funding for low-income communities that face "disproportionate impacts from environmental pollution" and create incentives for businesses to back projects that cut down on carbon emissions, blamed for global warming.

In addition, the budget provides $400m to help communities assess flood risks.

It also spells out the costs to the federal government of climate-related disasters, highlighting a fiscal argument to fight global warming. The United States has taken on over $300bn in direct costs resulting from extreme weather and fire in the past decade, the budget says.