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  • Monday, January 31, 2011


    Analysis: Obama energy plan best chance for clean power
    Timothy Gardner and Tom Doggett (w/Ayesha Rascoe andTodd Eastham), January 27, 2011 (Reuters)

    "President Barack Obama's new plan to double U.S. clean power output could provide the kind of compromise needed to pass a divided Congress because it offers benefits to lawmakers who want to cut planet-warming emissions and those who want more jobs in energy-rich states…[I]ntroduced in his State of the Union speech…[the plan] would require power plants to generate 80 percent clean electricity by 2035…

    "It is far broader than legislation debated last year…includes generation from nuclear power, natural gas and technologies to capture and bury carbon from coal -- a process that is not yet commercially available…[and] goes further than legislation for a clean electricity mandate introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham late last year…[It represents] the best chance for developing clean energy in this Congress, especially after a broad energy bill [concentrating only on renewable electricity and ] containing a cap and trade market for emissions [met tough opposition from lawmakers representing states in the Midwest and South and] failed to pass in the Senate last year…"

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    "Obama's new direction could gain support from lawmakers across the country, many of whom opposed last year's climate bill. A nuclear component could win support from Republican Senators like Graham, Lamar Alexander and George Voinovich, while a clean coal provision could garner votes from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and John Rockefeller from coal-rich West Virginia.

    "A clean power mandate could benefit companies that make components for wind and solar like General Electric, First Solar and SunPower Corp…Increased natural gas development could benefit producers like Chesapeake Energy Corp, Devon Energy and Anadarko Petroleum…Clean coal incentives could benefit producers like Arch Coal Inc and Massey Energy."

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    "If Obama can work with Congress to pass the bill, he could begin to achieve his goal of cutting greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, and repair some of the political damage he suffered from failing to pass the last year's energy bill…[The proposed] plan was light on details and successful execution of it will depend on how carefully lawmakers craft a bill that would satisfy leaders in the House of Representatives, now controlled by Republicans after the midterm elections.

    "Energy Secretary Steven Chu said…the plan represents roughly a doubling of electricity generation from cleaner power sources in less than 25 years…[A challenge] would be lawmakers who oppose federal regulation…Obama said his plan hinges on eliminating billions of dollars in oil, coal and natural gas subsidies. He wants the money to be shifted into clean energy research and deployment…[That] could irk some Republicans in the House…But a promising sign for Obama's plan was the power industry's cautious interest in at least considering the plan…The trick for authors of a bill will be to satisfy fossil fuel interests without completely alienating lawmakers who want to cut emissions and boost alternative energy…"


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