Perhaps one of the main reasons behind Barack Obama’s historic, illustrious victory in the U.S presidential elections on November 4th was his energy agenda. Having suffered for a long time from rising oil prices, which hit the $146 mark at some point few months ago; many Americans left their cars behind and used public transportation. According to Obama’s energy plan, American taxpayers will each get a $500 rebate check – funded by profits taxes to be levied on big oil companies
“For almost a quarter of a century, American presidents have been adopting multi-billion dollar energy policies under loose titles such as the Energy Independence Program which evidently means ending oil dependence,” argued Walid Khadouri, an Arab oil expert in his weekly column in the daily London-based Al-Hayat. “Indeed, Obama’s program, presented during his electoral campaign, does not differ from the programs of his predecessors, especially the Democrats,” he added.
Nevertheless, president-elect Obama adopts a detailed 30-point energy agenda that calls for big changes to address carbon emissions, fuel efficiency for vehicles, and domestic and renewable power and efficiency. Obama’s energy plan seems to be part and parcel of his promise to get the economy restarted, according to many experts.
Obama’s energy plan includes more than 20 points. The first point aims at manufacturing one million plug-in-electric hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) to run on roads by 2015 (cars that can get the equivalent of 150 miles per gallon). The second one focuses on creating five5 million new green jobs by investing $150 billion over 10 years to stimulate clean-energy infrastructure and manufacturing such as wind-turbine plants and solar panels carpeting the nation’s rooftops.
Obama has also vowed during his campaign to end the U.S dependence on imported oil, especially that brought in from the Middle East. Therefore, cutting US oil consumption, within 10 years, by the amount currently imported from the Middle East and Venezuela combined, tops his energy agenda.
As oil is one of the main sources of generating electricity, Obama sees that there should be 10% of the nation’s electricity coming from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass by 2012. This percentage is planned to be raised to 25% by 2025.
Observers still wonder whether president-elect Obama would implement his agenda as it is or will political and economic pressures hamper him. Many argue that Obama has enormous political support for his clean-energy agenda as there are many regions that will be positively impacted by the changes, he will introduce as they will benefit from clean energy he calls for.
Experts agree that the elements of the president-elect’s energy plan are costly. However, they argue that the sales of pollution permits from the cap-and-trade program to limit CO2 emissions are integral to helping fund his plan’s $15 billion per year expenditure on renewable energy research and development.
While no one has calculated the cost-benefit for Obama’s energy plan, some argue that any effect would still be a plus for green jobs and the economy in general.
In fact, much of the Obama plan follows the National Commission on Energy Policy’s (NCEP) 2004 plan, thus giving it the advantage of having been examined by energy, foreign policy, and industry experts. This, at least, could guarantee its success.
By Mohamed El-Sayed