Obama unveils coal, biofuel plans

February 8, 2010 at 10:57 AM 1 comment

Hoping to earn support from coal and farm states for a languishing energy and climate bill, President Barack Obama on Wednesday created a task force to push for cleaner coal and unveiled a plan to help finance biofuels.

Moreover, a presidential committee recommended spending more money to make biofuels such as ethanol, saying the U.S. is likely to otherwise fall short of mandates for more environmentally friendly energy.

“I happen to believe that we should pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill,” Obama told a White House meeting of governors, many from coal-producing states. “It will make clean energy the profitable kind of energy, and the decision by other nations to do this is already giving their businesses a leg up on developing clean energy jobs and technologies.

“But even if you disagree on the threat posed by climate change,” he added, “investing in clean energy jobs and businesses is still the right thing to do for our economy. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil is still the right thing to do for our security.”

The task force will focus on ways to capture and store carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. “Rapid development and deployment of clean coal technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS), will help position the U.S. as a leader in the global clean energy race,” the White House said.

On biofuels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to start a financial aid program for “folks delivering biomass for the collection, harvest, storage, and transportation of biomass to eligible biomass conversion facilities.”

Biofuels, which are made from biomass — organic matter such as wood, crops and animal waste — are used to power vehicles, but critics do not see them as the perfect replacement to high-polluting fossil fuels.

Since his State of the Union Address last week, the president has been embracing a range of fuel alternatives including nuclear and clean coal technology in a move likely to win support of some wavering Democrats in coal states and Republicans.

Obama’s push for ethanol could also shore up his support in farm states where ethanol helps support demand for corn.

Many pieces of those proposals were likely to win Republican support on Capitol Hill, where GOP allies have been elusive for a Democratic White House looking to pass controversial cap-and-trade legislation that would limit the nation’s emissions.

Energy has served as a major plank of the president’s domestic agenda, finding places on his travel schedule, in his speeches and in his budget proposal released on Monday.

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Entry filed under: Climate Bill, Climate Change, Conservation. Tags: , , , .

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