New Administration Reiterates Commitment to Environment

Throughout his campaign, President Barack Obama remained vocal on his commitment to the environment. Accordingly, in a continuing effort to better serve our clients, SGR remains dedicated to staying on top of all developments, following the speeches, the criticisms, and proposals closely. And although many proposed regulations and bills will evolve, it is evident that the 44th president places a serious focus on climate change and energy policy. Last week, President Obama announced his planned energy policy, which included a pledge to “lead” on combating climate change and developing alternatives to oil as an energy source.

For starters, President Obama is very outspoken in his support of a national cap-and-trade system. Just last year, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)-the country’s first mandatory, market-based effort- held its inaugural auction. RGGI’s third auction will be held in March 2009. This system-combined with the Chicago Climate Exchange, efforts of the Western Climate Initiative and California’s AB-32, as well as successful efforts abroad-provides the federal government with a strong model upon which to develop a national system for greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, President Obama proposed a federal smart grid investment program. President Obama also stated that he will push for energy efficiency, including having all buildings carbon neutral by 2030 and phasing out incandescent light bulbs. It appears this dream will become a reality. An economic stimulus package that calls for $11 billion to modernize the electricity grid is working its way through Congress. The proposed stimulus plan also recommends billions be spent on upgrading the energy efficiency of buildings.

President Obama has also spoken out in support of renewable and alternative energies and has said that he hopes to see more than 35 billion gallons of biofuels used by 2022, and as much as 60 billion by 2030. He has also stated that the federal government should obtain 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Companies engaged in such activities will want to stay abreast of the changing regulations as we expect many incentives will be available for pilot programs, research and development and production facilities.

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