On Thursday President Obama released an overview of his FY 2010 budget request, with the full details expected to be published in April.
Unsurprisingly, it continues the trends set out in the recovery plan such as tackling climate change head on. Two examples are the extra money ($15 billion a year, to be exact) allocated to developing alternative energy sources and the EPA’s budget which was increased by $3 billion over the previous year, making it the largest budget since the agency was founded 39 years ago. This includes $19 million allocated to a “greenhouse gas emissions inventory and related activities”, which will provide data for implementing a comprehensive climate change bill.
Plenty has already been said about the fact that part of the budget for the next 10 years is built around a cap-and-trade programme (a system that is not even in place yet), noting that a substantial part of the revenues from such a programme will be used to help people cope with rising energy prices which are expected once that cap-and-trade is operating (mainly by way of tax credits).
But one thing that specifically pleases me about this budget (after all, by now we’re starting to get used to a government that takes climate change seriously and the fact that this is “the first budget in U.S. history that is environmentally sustainable” is taken for granted. Well, almost…), is the fact that one of the key priorities mentioned in the Department of Transportation budget is to promote public transport. One manifestation if this prioritisation is a 5 year, $5 billion high-speed rail State grant programme, which comes in addition to the $8 billion allocated to high-speed trains in the stimulus package. As I’ve noted elsewhere, a large investment in public transport is desperately needed to start turning the tide away from private – and energy inefficient – transport.
On the other hand, I was a little disappointed not to find any mentions of funds allocated specifically for adaptation efforts. This may come when the details are published, though it is also likely that this issue is still being overlooked. But more on that in a different post…