In a recent address, President Obama defined a clean energy future in terms of new technologies that save energy, save money, and create new jobs. If that rings a bell, you may be thinking of a report called Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future, which outlines the same vision. There was a little problem with the timing, though — the CEF report was released in November 2000, just a few months before two oilmen took office as President and Vice President of the United States.
The CEF Report
Prefaced by warnings of over-reliance on fossil fuels leading to supply and price disruptions, as well as threats from air pollution and global climate change, the CEF report was produced by the Department of Energy as a greenhouse gas reduction toolkit for policymakers. Two key elements were a domestic carbon trading system and a doubling of federal investment in public/private research and development.
Finally, Progress on Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future
The report gathered dust during the Bush Administration, and vigorous political pushback on carbon trading and federal clean energy spending continues to this day. However, the Obama Administration has focused on a third key element in the CEF report, energy efficiency. As highlighted by new programs like the Better Buildings Initiative and the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the President is aggressively pursuing the kind of voluntary industry agreements and new efficiency standards described in the CEF report, including new fuel efficiency standards
The President has also pushed for the R&D investment described by CEF with the SunShot initiative, and he has brought more federal dollars to bear on clean energy with new partnerships between the departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture, capped by a new Navy biofuels program.
As for the future, don’t expect President Obama to bring up cap-and-trade any time soon, but look for a string of new programs that combine job creation with new energy technologies for improved efficiency, renewable energy, and economic sustainability.
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