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Thursday, January 14,2010

Obama, one year later

An evaluation of the president's first year

By BoulderWeekly.com

Environment and energy policy

President Obama’s solution to solving the world’s climate change and United States’ energy policy woes has been through focusing on homegrown energy sources. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included more than $80 billion in clean-energy investments intended to create clean-energy jobs, reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil and cut our carbon pollution by about 80 percent by 2050.

The stimulus package includes $11 billion for developing a smarter grid that will direct renewable energy from the rural production plants to cities. Also, 40 million smart meters, like those already in service in the city of Boulder, will be installed in American homes. The stimulus package includes $5 billion for low-income home weatherization projects, $4.5 billion to “green” federal buildings and cut our public energy bill, $6.3 billion for state and local renewable energy and energyefficiency efforts, $600 million in green job training programs ($100 million to expand worker training programs and $500 million for green workforce training), and $2 billion in grants to develop batteries to store energy for plug-in hybrids.

Other initiatives include modernizing federal buildings, which will reduce longterm energy costs, and providing grants to states to weatherize hundreds of thousands of homes, which will save homeowners about $350 each year on average.

Consumers are eligible for up to $1,500 in tax credits to purchase more efficient cooling and heating systems and insulation to reduce their energy bills. Obama issued a memorandum to the Department of Energy to create more assertive efficiency standards for household appliances, which over the next three decades will save us twice the amount of energy produced by all the coal-fired power plants in America in any given year.

For the first time since the mid-80s, fuel economy standards will increase for model year 2011 for cars and trucks. Obama plans to buy a fleet of 17,600 American-made, fuel-efficient cars and trucks for the government. After the $64 billion bailout given to General Motors and Chrysler, Obama expects those automakers to build cars of the future — clean-energy cars and cars that meet fuel economy standards, straying away from SUVs, which leaves Americans dependent on foreign oil.

According to Politifact.com, most of Obama’s energy policy promises have been fulfilled or are in the works. Obama kept his promise to create a partnership with Americans to increase research and development in clean coal technology, sustainable biofuels, wind, solar and nuclear energy. He kept his promise to encourage farmers to use more renewable energy and be more energy efficient. He also kept his promise to establish a program to convert manufacturing centers into clean technology leaders. But Politifact.com says Obama has also stalled with other energy matters, like enacting a windfall profits tax for oil companies. This would require oil companies to take a share of their recordbreaking profits and donate it to help families deal with the rising price of gasoline, food, etc. He has also stalled in swapping oil from the StrategicPetroleum Reserve to cut gas prices.

For the most part, however, Obama seems to have kept his word when it comes to energy and the environment. By channeling stimulus funds toward energy, he has taken small steps toward addressing climate change and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.

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