Obama's Budget Passed, So Will America Get Greener? A Guide to the Final Draft


Photo via Public Radio

Obama's budget laid out an ambitious vision for the US--and it advanced some pretty revolutionary green ideas. For one thing, it was the first US budget ever to include a carbon cap and trade system--one that would generate $645 billion dollars over the next few years by charging companies for their carbon emissions pollution. Well, the budget has passed--both the House and the Senate voted in favor yesterday--but some of the green was sacrificed in the political process. So what did make the final budget cut--and is America still on track for a greener future?Unfortunately, not that carbon cap and trade--there's still room for the system in the budget, but after 28 Senators protested the cap, it was left out. Obama said—even before his budget was finally approved--that he hopes Congress will create legislation for a cap and trade instead. And they're working on that one right now . . .

But what of the $3.6 trillion budget that did pass? Is there any reason to hope for green progress with the funding it outlines?

In a word, yes. Or in more words:

“This is the greenest, most forward-looking budget Congress has passed in a decade. Congress is forging a new, clean-energy future for our nation that will create jobs and jumpstart our economy."

That's the NRDC talking—and the agency seems pretty fired up about it. And here's why:

The Green (Left) in Obama's Budget

-$5 billion for high speed rail. Yes, the budget maintains the $1 billion dollars a year addition to the $8 billion from the stimulus bill to spur growth of a "first rate" passenger rail system in the US.

-Doubles federal funding in basic sciences, increasing funding for climate science

-$15 billion for clean energy and efficiency projects.

-Outlines for green job development: according to the summary, the new budget will "direct existing programs to find ways to prepare workers for jobs associated with products and services that use renewable energy resources, reduce pollution, and conserve natural resources." Which means adjusting the Dept. of Labor funding to make room for green.

-Provides $10.5 billion for the EPA, a 34% increase from last year's budget. This is good news indeed, especially with the competent and energized Lisa Jackson at the helm.

-$12 billion for the Dept. of the Interior to preserve national parks and public lands, and some funding allotted to promote renewable energy projects on federal lands.

-$3.9 billion for clean water and drinking water infrastructure projects, on top of billions more from the stimulus

-$7 billion for the National Science Foundation. Combined with the other science initiatives, this will bring the total amount of spending on research and development up to a whopping 3% of the entire US GPD--a great way to pave the way for progress on the clean tech front, among other things.

There's more too--smaller clean energy provisions and tax incentives that expand upon those in the stimulus bill. And other focuses, like expanding education and health care reform efforts are welcome as well. So yes, in short, Obama's budget is forward thinking on the green front, in a very encouraging way. Now how about that cap and trade . . .

Let me know what you think of Obama's budget--follow me on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/bcmerchant
More on the Green in Obama's Budget
Guide to the Green in Obama's Budget: Dept. of Transportation
Goodbye, Yucca Mountain: Obama's Budget Cuts Nuclear Storage Plans
How to Pitch a $3.8 Trillion Budget: Obama Pushes Green Jobs, Renewable Energy

Tags: Barack Obama | Congress | Economics