By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
President Obama yesterday outlined plans to spend about $59 billion in economic stimulus funds and $150 billion from the federal budget to promote what he calls America's "clean-energy future."
"We will attack the problems that have held us back for too long," including dependence on foreign oil, Obama told a gathering of clean-energy entrepreneurs and leading researchers at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
He said his plan to invest $59 billion from the economic stimulus package in clean-energy projects and tax incentives would ultimately help create more than 300,000 jobs and double the nation's supply of renewable energy.
In addition, Obama said, his $3.55 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2010 calls for spending $150 billion over 10 years to promote clean energy and energy efficiency. It includes nearly $75 billion to make permanent a tax credit aimed at stimulating private-sector investment in research and development.
Obama discussed his commitment to clean energy and reduced U.S. dependence on foreign oil after examining a display of technological breakthroughs in solar power, car batteries and other areas.
"Innovators like you are creating the jobs that will foster our recovery and creating the technologies that will power our long-term prosperity," Obama told the gathering. "At this moment of necessity, we need you. We need some inventiveness. Your country needs you to create new jobs and lead new industries. Your country needs you to mount a historic effort to end, once and for all, our dependence on foreign oil. And in this difficult endeavor, in this pursuit on which I believe our future depends, our country will support you. Your president will support you."
Obama plans to use money from the stimulus plan and his new budget to spur cutting-edge research, develop clean-energy technologies and provide incentives for private research, according to a White House fact sheet.
"These investments will establish the foundation for America's future economic prosperity, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help combat climate change," the White House said.
The $787 billion stimulus plan, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, includes $39 billion for projects at the Energy Department and $20 billion in tax incentives for clean energy, the fact sheet said. Among other goals, the funding is intended to create an advanced research agency for energy modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which developed the Internet, and to support Energy Frontier Research Centers, which could lead to breakthroughs in energy storage, super-efficient engines and inexpensive solar cells that are "as cheap as paint," the fact sheet said.
The stimulus plan will also support U.S. manufacturing of advanced batteries needed for plug-in hybrids, renewable energy backup and other applications.
About $1.2 billion is destined for "research infrastructure" at the Energy Department's national laboratories, including the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where Obama said recovery funds will speed construction on a lab "that will help develop materials for new solar cells and other clean-energy technologies."
In making the case for spending almost $75 billion from next year's budget to make the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit permanent, the White House said every dollar of tax benefit for private research and development yields $2 in benefits to the U.S. economy and society in the long run. It said companies need to be able to count on the credit, which has been extended 13 times, with some extensions lasting only six months.