Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

In a sign of things to come, Barack Obama is in the beginnings of his policy rollout. This article from the AP previews a plan Obama plans to unveil in Durham, NH today.

http://www.examiner.com/a-685086~Obama_P ushes_Carbon_Reductions_in_Car_Fuel.html

Here are the basics of Obama's proposal:

The Illinois senator planned to offer his energy proposal Friday at the University of New Hampshire. The approach echoes California's.

California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, issued an executive order this year saying that all fuels in the state contain lower carbon content. The goal is to reduce carbon intensity of California's passenger vehicle fuels by 10 percent by 2020.

The Obama campaign said its effort would take that plan nationally. Specifically, Obama wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars by 5 percent in 2015 and 10 percent in 2020.

Obama's plan counts on new limits to force increased production of renewable biofuels, such as corn and cellulosic ethanol, which naturally have lower emissions. The plan would create incentives for increased research, investment in cleaner fuels and flexible-fuel vehicles that can run on ethanol.

While a ten percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions does not sound like a staggering amount, if you combine this effort with his bill before the Senate to increase fuel efficiency standards, you get this:

Obama also has proposed a bill in the Senate that would raise fuel efficiency standards. If that were enacted and combined with his carbon program, it would cut about 583 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2020, the equivalent of taking about 96 million cars off the road.

Sounds like the beginnings of a pretty solid and easily achievable energy policy to me.

Tags: Barack Obama, carbon, Environment, fuel, New Hampshire (all tags)



Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

eh.  I'd rather see a carbon tax or 'cap 'n trade' program.  

taking the equivalent of 96 million cars off the road might make one of those Global Warming 'wedges', but we need to have 7 'wedges' to make a dent.

what about enery efficient appliances, carbon sequestration, wind, solar and nuclear, etc?  

Also, the Senate bill for fuel efficiency doesn't go nearly far enough.  

Obama's plan is hardly a bold move.  

Then again, given the state of world affairs maybe Tom Friedman is right and we need a 'cult of personality' president who everyone simply likes.  A nice guy and all.

by dayspring 2007-04-20 04:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

Its a start. Or maybe we are just supposed to be cynical about everything.

by mihan 2007-04-20 04:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

Is calling someone who is at all critical part of "new politics".   I find that totally irritating and dismissive of a real policy point.  I hope the Obama campaign will handle questions about the policy better.

I had the same reaction to the plan.  This is one or two of the wedges, but I don't see it getting us to the 80 or 90% reductions that most scientists are calling for.

Should we be critical or serious minded about this, or should we accept "good steps"?   Answer for yourself, but if 80% gives us a 50/50 chance of averting disaster, "good steps" are extactly what we would all be criticizing the environmental community for.

Let's be serious about leadership AND policy here.  We demand it of the organizations in the progressive community.  Let's demand it of our candidates too - at least during the phase where they are competing for support from the progressive community.

by Orlando 2007-04-20 08:41AM | 0 recs
Its not the whole policy...just one part of it

Calm down...if you're going to use quotations, best that someone had actually used that phrase.

Otherwise, I don't even know how to respond to that kind of nonsense.

by mihan 2007-04-20 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Its not the whole policy...just one part of it

You need a citation for Obama's use of the term "new politics"?

by Orlando 2007-04-20 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Its not the whole policy...just one part of it

if you're going to "quote it" as though someone had mentioned "it" before, whatever "it" is should have been previously mentioned. But reading the rest of your comments it seems you don't care about engaging anyone in real discussion, anyway.

by mihan 2007-04-20 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction
I agree completely with this comment. I think Obama is well meaning but he's from a corn state, and talks mainly ethanol. Occasional he mentions cellulose, but that does not exist, and we still don't know if it will make it.  To put this in perspective I ran the number on corn-ethanol and CO2.
     In 2017 when USDA says we'll max out on corn, we will save 0.13%, that's just over 1/10 of 1% of today's GHGs. This is based on optimistic values from only the most respected sources. If you don't believe, check it out here zFacts.com/p/60.html.
     I'm not against subsidies or ethanol, but corn is a big zero with a lot of ecology downside. As noted above we can do way better.
by zFacts 2007-04-24 06:49PM | 0 recs
Voting record ratings on the environment

comparing Edwards and Obama side by side (useful, as the discussion on this and environment unfolds here) can seen in this dkos comment.

In particular:

LCV: The League of Conservation Voters ratings

Edwards, 2003: 37%
Edwards: 2001-2002: 68%
Edwards: 1999-200: 88%

Obama, 2005: 95%

Additionally, Obama has a 100% rating at progressivepunch.org on environmental issues    while on the US Senate. PP.O doesn't seem to have past voting records and hence a comparision with Edwards in for their ratings is probably not available.

by NuevoLiberal 2007-04-20 05:32AM | 0 recs
Slight correction/ clarification


his plan appears to be calling for a 10% reduction not in emissions overall, but only from cars. Granted cars are a huge emissions source, but just wanted to make that clarification.

Overall its a good idea, but doesn't seem to be enough. It seems like a small step in the big picture so I hope these are just peices of his overall plan. And of course there are numerous problems with relying on ethonal as others have pointed out.

Edwards last month, and Dodd yesterday, are both calling for very ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050. Its not really enough just to make a dent in this problem or carbon emissions will still rise; we need start reversing course.

when he makes the announcement, can you update? Hopefully this is part of an overall plan.

by okamichan13 2007-04-20 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Slight correction/ clarification

That's  my hope too, is that its just part of an overall plan. By itself its not comprehensive, but its likely not meant to be.

I think part of the strategy here is to release plans in bits and pieces, so that it all makes the news and very publicly becomes a part of his agenda.  

As the the event at UNH unfolds and some news gets out there about what Obama actually rolls out, I'll be sure to update.

by mihan 2007-04-20 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Slight correction/ clarification

Is it just me, or do you detect Axelrod caution across the entire breadth of this campaign? Obviously a lot of it is Obama too, but it's just amazing to me how much Obama'08  reminds me of Edwards '04.

by adamterando 2007-04-20 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Slight correction/ clarification

Better comparison: Obama 08 with Patrick 06.  Axelrod worked on both campaigns.

by KimPossible 2007-04-20 08:23AM | 0 recs
I agree with you

which is one of the reasons that I, an Edwards supporter, don't mind a bit that Axelrod ended up in the Obama camp.

We can do a lot better than 10 percent by 2020.

by desmoinesdem 2007-04-20 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Slight correction/ clarification

You seem sort of obsessed with Axelrod, you mention him in every single Obama thread. A bit unreasonable IMO.

Let's not forget that Edwards did fine in '04 as well.

by Korha 2007-04-20 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Slight correction/ clarification

Just trying to figure out where the caution comes from. And if I seem "obsessed" (in that I've only mentioned him in the past week), it's because Obama has started to rev up the policy side of his proposals. And they seem pretty darn cautious.

by adamterando 2007-04-20 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Slight correction/ clarification

Ambitious programs sometimes don't get off the ground because they are deemed too huge to tackle.  I used to run 45 hour workshops for women transitioning back into the workforce.  I had a 3 hour segment on goalsetting.  Every large, ambitious goal must be broken into subgoals conforming to the SMART strategy for goalsetting. This means in order to realize the big goal each subgoal must be:


As a results-oriented person; this,IMO, would be a strategy Obama would employ.

by pamelabrown 2007-04-20 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Slight correction/ clarification

Did you also teach the value of setting goals that actually solve the whole problem too?   Seriously.  Some times you propose half a loaf because you think that is all you can get, or because maybe even you can only get to quarter realistically.

But there are times when leadership requires setting the goals that will actually address the problem.  (Telling an alcholic they need to stop ALL drinking, not just some or most drinking).

This is a problem and a time when we need leaders to be truthful about the problem and what it will take to solve it.

Dodd: Carbon Tax
Edwards:  80% by 2050 and maybe a carbon tax (meet the press).

by Orlando 2007-04-20 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re:Did you read my post?

If Obama's overall policy doesn't work for you, get back to me.  Otherwise this huge complex problem must be broken into subgoals in order for the "big picture" to be realized.

by pamelabrown 2007-04-20 08:59AM | 0 recs
Big Picture

Look at the Edwards plan. Hopefully, Obama's plan will similarly put subgoals together for the big picture to be realized.

by clarkent 2007-04-20 09:07AM | 0 recs
Hmm I guess let us know then

when that big picture develops. So far with his support of corn ethonal and liquifying coal, he doesn't seem to have really put a lot of thought into the environmental issues on a national level.

I do hope we see more though. There will be even more presure on him now that Hillary's campaign has decided to follow Edwards and go carbon neutral.

by okamichan13 2007-04-20 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction
to me, it sounds like the beginning of an overall policy.  Not the whole policy itself.
We have to start somewhere and this is a good place.
by vwcat 2007-04-20 06:17AM | 0 recs
I assume you're right

I am glad Obama is starting to roll out his policy agenda.

I want to see every candidate put out a plan to reduce carbon emissions. Then let the debates begin about whose plan is the best, most realistic, etc.

by desmoinesdem 2007-04-20 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

I hope he comes up with something better than this, because this proposal is not going to get it donw.

by clarkent 2007-04-20 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

No, it won't.  

Ethanol from corn is dead.  The science is more firmly focused on ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks like corn stover and wood chips.  There's about 1 billion tons of biomass potentially available every year from agricultural sources such as crop wastes, animal manure, grains and other crops. The remaining biomass could come from sources including fuel wood from forests, wastes left over from wood processing mills and paper mills, and construction and demolition debris. Ethanol from corn pulls us into a 'food or fuel' debate when it should be 'food and fuel.'

The interesting omission is Obama's cosponsorship of the "Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007," which was probably a favor for the IL coal industry.

The problem is the process of converting coal into liquid and using it for transportation releases nearly twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2)--a greenhouse gas-- as burning diesel made from crude oil does.  So if you convert coal into liquid fuel and don't capture the CO2, you're just increasing emissions.  The way to deal with the CO2 is to sequester it underground--a process for which a workable solution hasn't been found.

by KimPossible 2007-04-20 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

This plan will do nothing to decrease carbon emissions, it's a step backwards. Corn ethanol is just an expensive and inefficient scheme for coverting coal and natural gas into vehicle fuel and not coincidentally it funnels billions of extra subsidies into the pockets of Archer Daniel Midlands and big agribusiness.

by billybob 2007-04-20 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

I just read a few minutes ago about this plan on his website, which is accompanied with a PDF file of the exact plan.  It actually does not call for subsidies.  It calls for a cap on the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels and allows the market to decide what biofuels are best for meeting that standard.  According to a study that was done on Obama's plan (again, this according to the Obama campaign), Obama's plan when fully implemented would be the equivalence of 30 million cars off the road.  Couple with his calls for higher fuel efficiency standards, it would be the equivalence of 80 million cars off the road.

I have a feeling a full-blown cap-and-trade proposal or some other major energy plan is coming.  However, this was just a small portion of it.  I think it is significant, however, that Obama set his targets for 2015 and 2020.  That seems to be a lot more feasible, when you consider his presidency would run from 2009-2017, than the plans from some candidates who are proposing sending shots at the moon talking about the year 2050.  

by KDJ 2007-04-20 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

Which ones?

by clarkent 2007-04-21 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

Dodd put out his plan a couple of days ago that set the target date of 2050 for an 80% reduction in the use of carbon.  Both Hillary and Edwards have set targets for 2025.  I admire their efforts, but the one thing I've learned from the Kyoto Protocol is that if you set the targets too far down the road, you breed complacency and in the end the targets never get met.

by KDJ 2007-04-21 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

Components of the Edwards plan have intermediate targets of 5 and 10 years.

by clarkent 2007-04-21 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

I think Obama's plan is fantastic. But I have to say, it doesn't really do enough. Compare that to Governor Deval Patrick's plan.

The "Leading By Example - Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings" Executive Order raises the Commonwealth's clean energy and efficiency goals in the operation of state buildings.  State agencies are responsible for consuming over 1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, 22 million gallons of heating oil, and 46 million therms of natural gas annually, resulting in emission of 1 million tons of carbon dioxide - the equivalent of 200,000 automobiles.  


The new Executive Order requires that state agencies:

* Reduce their overall energy consumption 20 percent by 2012, from 2002 levels, 35 percent by 2020.
* Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent over the next five years, 40 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050.

In order to achieve these goals, state agencies are required to:

* Obtain 15 percent of their electricity from clean renewable sources by 2012, 30 percent by 2020

  • Use biofuels for 3 percent of heating oil next winter, 5 percent in 2008-09
  • Meet Massachusetts's LEED-Plus green building standards for all new construction and major renovations, and consider energy performance in leasing decisions
  • Reduce potable water use 10 over the next five years, 15 percent by 2020.

Under the new requirements, all facilities larger than 100,000 square feet will have to be retrofitted for energy efficiency by 2012, and small agencies will be allowed to take advantage of utility rebate programs.  The Executive Order also prohibits the purchase of incandescent light bulbs in most cases, and requires the purchase of energy efficient products, such as high-efficiency lights, programmable thermostats, and Energy Star-qualified products.  In the Executive Order, Governor Patrick also calls for changes in behavior in state offices.  

We can do this with Federal buildings too, and think of the savings. So couple that with Obama's plan for car emissions, and you begin to have a real environmental policy. But his friend Deval Patrick is doing it, so he can too.

by afertig 2007-04-20 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Thankyou afertig

for informing about nuts and bolts info that helps me better analyze the merits of these plans.

by pamelabrown 2007-04-20 09:04AM | 0 recs
Pelosi's doing so in the House

See my post about the Capitol going green.

by The Cunctator 2007-04-20 09:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

This is just the start of it. Jeez. It's like saying his Health care for Hybrid thing was his whole energy policy.

It's not.

He does have a cap and trade plan. Not the greatest one though The Climate Stewardship Act. I bet he will go farther then that.

by Populista 2007-04-20 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

The Climate Stewardship Act is a crock.  Billions for nukes, half way measure led by McCain and Lieberman.  

Stop justifying weak sh*t just because you like the guy.

Can you tell I am starting to get irritated with this :)

by Orlando 2007-04-20 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

Does Obama supporting increasing the use of nuclear energy?

by okamichan13 2007-04-20 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

All I know is that Obama was a waffler on Clear Skies back when I worked on that.  We had to nail that vote down late.

by Peter from WI 2007-04-20 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama to unveil plan for carbon reduction

Was he around for clear skies or are you talking about the state senate?

(for some reason I assume you're talking about the PIRG campaign, sorry if I'm mistaken)

by adamterando 2007-04-20 03:50PM | 0 recs


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