President’s Budget Backs Climate Change Action

President Obama’s FY2011 budget proposal reiterates his commitment to creating jobs and strengthening our economy by building a clean energy future, and his determination to combat climate change through international agreements, comprehensive new climate and energy legislation, and action under the Clean Air Act.  The message comes through in the budget numbers and the accompanying budget narrative.

First, the budget restates the President’s commitment, made last November and formally recorded last week under the Copenhagen Accord, to a target for reducing our country’s global warming pollution (p. 126):  “The Administration supports a comprehensive market-based climate change policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The President also supports a near-term target in the range of a 17-percent reduction by 2020.”  This target is in line with the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed by the House last June.  In his State of the Union speech last week, President Obama reached out to both sides of the aisle to move legislation through the Senate.  My colleague Dan Lashof explains here how the budget provides for revenue-neutral treatment of the value of carbon allowances.  (Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office scores the House bill as a small net revenue increase.)

Second, the president’s budget requests funds to help poor and vulnerable nations cope with climate impacts, protect their forests, and adopt clean energy technologies.  As my colleague Heather Allen explains, the administration is proposing a 38 percent increase over the 2010 international climate change finance budget, and this will strengthen the U.S. contribution to the $10 billion per year of fast-start funds promised by developed countries under the Copenhagen Accord. 

Third, the president’s budget requests additional funds for the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out its responsibilities to address global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act.  Some $47 million in new funds will be used to carry out greenhouse gas emissions reporting requirements as Congress directed in the 2007 appropriations act; to develop achievable and affordable performance standards for categories of carbon-emitting vehicles and industrial sources; and to help states prepare to act quickly and efficiently on future industry needs for construction and operation permits.  All of these actions are important and long-overdue steps towards protecting our health and the environment from the dangers of global warming pollution, under the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. 

The 2011 budget is further proof that President Obama and his administration are committed to building the clean energy economy that will create jobs, increase our security, and cut the pollution that drives global warming.