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Federal Budget and Energy

The budget request process at the federal level is often symbolic.  The White House shows off its priorities and how it would allocate tax dollars if it had free reign.  President Obama’s budget request this year mirrored themes from his State of the Union address, particularly when it comes to energy policy. The budget proposal includes a new $4 billion fund for states that goes further and faster than the current timeline allotted in the Clean Power Plan. It calls for a permanent extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is currently lapsed, and asks for money to finance additional clean energy projects.  President Obama also called on Congress to abolish tax incentives for the oil and natural gas industry that are worth a minimum of $43.8 billion in the next decade.

But as Sen. John McCain(R, AZ) put it, that budget is “dead on arrival.” Judging by recent votes, Congressional leadership will fight the extension of the PTC for even five years and has shown nearly unanimous opposition to EPA’s Clean Power Plan or any move to limit oil and gas subsidies.

In some regards, this year’s budget is another demonstration of how far apart the White House and Congress are on energy policy. No one expected a growing Republican Congressional majority to accept the budget in full, but it looks like the chasm in ideology and practice is still comparable to McCain’s home state Grand Canyon. 

From The Hill:  Let’s crunch the numbers:
– $8.6 billion for the EPA, which is $450 million above last year’s approved budget.
– $4 billion for a new initiative called the Clean Power State Incentive Fund, which will reward states that go beyond the carbon pollution reduction targets set by the administration’s regulation on existing power plants.
– $7.4 billion for clean energy technology programs to promote the growth of solar, wind and low-carbon fossil fusel across the U.S.
– $239 million for the Environmental Protection Agency to assist with its efforts to tackle climate change, $25 million of which will help states craft a strategy to meet targets set by the climate rule.
– $29.9 billion for the Energy Department, $2 billion more than Obama requested last year.
– $13.2 billion for the Interior Department, an increase of 8 percent, or $959.2 million, over what Congress gave it for 2015.
– $500 million for foreign climate aid — the United Nations Green Climate Fund — to help countries mitigate climate change impacts. The administration wants a total of $1.29 billion to help the international climate push, and eventually $3 billion specifically for the climate fund.

“I will do everything in my power to prevent $3 billion in taxpayer dollars from going to the Green Climate Fund, where the money will be spent by unelected U.N. bureaucrats to dictate U.S. policy and hinder developing countries’ ability to aggressively address the economics of poverty,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said on Monday.