Though coal is central to the way that we generate the bulk of our electricity today, Obama and his team have taken steps to push the energy market away from fossil fuels and toward less carbon intensive alternatives:
The head of the EPA, which he appointed, issued an endangerment finding which will allow the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
He has also approved continued tax incentives for renewable technology.
The stimulus package included billions of dollars for updating the nation’s energy infrastructure, which would help renewable energy available in one area reach population centers in another region; some entrenched interests who own coal power generating facilities are unhappy with this because the price of renewables in some regions is excessively low, and will either cut into their profit margins or put them out of business (for example renewable hydropower in Oregon supplies the region with energy at half the cost of coal, which mainly drives energy in the southeastern US).
In addition to this the, following the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences, a new subgroup of the Department of Energy has been created called ARPA-e (Advanced Research Projets – Energy) which will fund potentially transformative technology research projects which traditional funding agencies might find too risky. The latest set of potentially transformative projects were approved just last week by Joe Biden.
While passing a climate bill is one of Obama’s domestic priorities, democrats legislators elected from coal producing regions will want to ensure their constituents’ jobs associated with the coal industry; he needs these democrats’ support to pass climate legislation, as it is unlikely that it will receive wide bipartisan support.
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