By Bradford Richardson and Timothy Cama - 02/06/16 06:00 AM EST
Obama calls for more clean-energy funding in budget
President Obama will send a budget to Congress that increases the amount of funding toward clean energy research and development by about 20 percent, he said Saturday.
The increase is part of a pledge Obama made with 19 other countries during the Paris climate change conference in December to double clean energy funding within five years.
“As I said in my State of the Union address, rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future,” Obama said in his weekly address. “That’s why the budget I will send to Congress this Tuesday will double funding for clean-energy research and development by 2020.”
The president said he was optimistic Republicans in Congress would not block his efforts, even if they are skeptical about the causes of climate change.
“While Republicans in Congress are still considering their position on climate change, many of them realize that clean energy is an incredible source of good-paying jobs for their constituents,” he said.
“That’s why we were able to boost clean energy research and development in last year’s budget agreement. And I hope they support my plan to double that kind of investment."
Senior administration officials touted the announcement Friday as “transformative” for the energy sector.
“The focus here is from the earliest stage, basic R&D, to the stuff that’s happening with entrepreneurs and startups who are testing out breakthrough technology innovation in the clean-energy space,” an official said.
The bulk of the increased funds would go to the Energy Department, but agencies like the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would also get boosts.
The energy sources that would benefit range from nuclear power to wind and solar, and even fossil fuels.
“It’s a very robust addition to the kinds of investments and policies that the administration already has put in place, and will help advance these clean energy technologies, and hopefully transform energy markets both here in the U.S. and globally,” another official said.
In the current fiscal year, about $6.4 billion is dedicated to clean energy funding across 12 agencies.
Obama also touted the Paris climate agreement signed last year by over 200 nations, which he said forged valuable commitments from private companies to reduce fossil fuel emissions.
“Investors and business leaders including Bill Gates, Meg Whitman, and Mark Zuckerberg joined us, pledging their own money to help advance new technologies to the market,” he said.
“That’s important because we’ll only meet this challenge if the private sector helps lead the way.”