President Obama released his fiscal budget for 2016 on Monday (2/2) afternoon, and it proposes an impressive $7.4 billion in funding for clean energy technologies as well as the creation of a $4 billion fund to incentivize individual U.S. states to make greater cuts to power plant emissions. The proposals are in keeping with the Obama administration’s wishes to prioritize the fight against climate change in the final two years of his presidency.
The budget allows for an increase in funding for clean energy technologies to $7.4 billion; the 2015 fiscal year proposed $6.9 billion in funding, and congress ultimately enacted $6.5 billion.
Much of this funding would be divided between the Departments of Energy, Defense, Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation—all of these organizations have taken a key role in green energy and the fight against climate change. Just last year the Department of Defense publicly stated that “rising temperatures pose an immediate threat to national security.”
The proposed 2016 fiscal budget also calls for the “permanent extension of the Production Tax Credit, used by the wind industry, and the Investment Tax Credit, used by the solar industry,” officials told Reuters. The Investment Tax credit is set to expire in 2016, and provides a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties. The Production Tax Credit, meanwhile, recently expired, but as Mother Jones explains, “when it was in effect, it provided developers a tax break of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour of energy their turbines produce for the first 10 years of operation.”
Tellingly, the budget proposal also seeks to create a $4 billion fund that would be used to incentivize states to curb emissions from power plants. This would enable states to put additional pressure on fossil-fueled power plants to cut their emissions above and beyond the levels set by the EPA in a controversial federal ruling in 2013.
There are also additional funds proposed to address the extreme weather events that we have seen in recent years with $400 million to help communities assess flood risks. There is also additional funding available to help states address coastal flooding, fires, and drought. Finally, the proposal contains unequivocal language underscoring the phenomenal costs of climate change, stating that the United States has spent more than $300 billion as a result of extreme weather and fire in the past decade.