The Stimulus Bill Becomes Law

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The stimulus package that President Obama signed into law yesterday has been a test of priorities for the new Congress, particularly on energy. Unfortunately, congressional negotiators crafting the final bill stripped out a $50 billion loan guarantee program designed to stimulate innovative energy technologies, including carbon capture and storage -- an essential tool needed to curb greenhouse emissions. That was a mistake.

In the next few years, ground could be broken in the United States for as many as 13 coal projects employing varying levels of carbon capture and storage, but only if federal incentives and carbon policies are strengthened. Many of these are multibillion-dollar projects, and building them would create between 60,000 and 96,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

While it is popular in some circles to believe that fossil fuels are going away, we shouldn't bet the planet on it. We simply must build the infrastructure to reduce, store and ultimately eliminate fossil fuels' carbon-dioxide emissions.

Renewables and energy conservation are critical to any comprehensive energy plan, but when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases, addressing coal is still paramount. The loan guarantees removed from the stimulus bill would have been a smart, practical way to create green jobs and address fossil fuel emissions. Congress should revisit the issue in the months to come.

JOHN THOMPSON

Director; Coal Transition Project

Clean Air Task Force

Boston


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