The Dernogalizer

July 16, 2009

Nobel Prize Winners Half-Right

As Grist is reporting, a long list of 34 Nobel-prize winners have written a letter to President Obama asking him to push for more money in the recent Waxman-Markey climate bill that passed the Houseto be spend on clean energy research and development.  Here they are right, we need a lot more spending on clean energy R&D programs than is currently in the bill. They then write that Obama called for $150 billion fund over 10 years($15 billion a year), and that the current bill provides “less than one-fifteenth” of that number.  Here they are wrong.  I would really like to see where they are getting that number from, and what they are counting.

If you look at a simple summary of the bill, it spends $190 billion dollars on in new clean energy technologies and science up to 2025.  To be fair, $60 billion in this is on Carbon Capture and Sequestration, which I have written is a pretty big waste of time and money.  I really wouldn’t count that towards clean energy research, although some might.  However in President Obama’s campaign, like it or not he lumped clean coal in the “clean energy R&D” category.  Since the bill takes effect in 2012, and this funding runs through to 2025 lets to the math.  By President Obama’s standards, this works out to about $14.5 billion dollars a year.  By my standards, $10 billion a year.  Now, if you include the tens of billions of dollars worth of spending on clean energy deployment in the economic stimulus, President Obama has already more than delivered on his campaign promise.

Now, the Nobel Prize winners are right in that whether you call it $10 billion, or $14.5 billion a year, it isn’t as much as it should be.  I frankly think we should be spending a minimum of $50 billion dollars a year.  Despite that, the reality is the Nobel Prize winners are misrepresenting what the bill does, and that is a problem.

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