Barack Obama’s election as the 44th President of the United States will have wide-ranging effects on the nation’s energy and transportation policies, as he has pledged to increase funding for infrastructure and alternative energy development and to make efficiency standards more stringent.
According to Obama’s campaign platform, he will “strategically invest $150 billion over 10 years to accelerate the commercialization of plug‐in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, encourage energy efficiency, invest in low emissions coal plants, advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid.”
Obama plans on implementing a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, increasing fuel economy standards 4% each year and mandating that all new vehicles are flexible fuel vehicles. He supports a 100% auction that will ensure all industries pay for all emissions they release, with $15 billion of the money raised from allowances going towards clean energy development and energy efficiency improvements.
“Advances in biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, biobutenol and other new technologies that produce synthetic petroleum from sustainable feedstocks offer tremendous potential to break our addiction to oil,” the campaign said. “Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work to ensure that these clean alternative fuels are developed and incorporated into our national supply as soon as possible.”
Obama has opposed opening currently closed areas to oil exploration and drilling, instead calling for opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserves to help increase supply. However, he has not spoken extensively on the topic since prices have fallen more than 50% in the past six weeks.
"The ATA (American Trucking Assns.) looks forward to working with the new administration on important issues affecting the trucking industry, including infrastructure expansion, high energy costs, highway safety improvements and environmental progress,” said ATA president & CEO Bill Graves. “The essential trucking industry will be a key to economic recovery, just as it has been a key to economic expansion in the past.”
The President-elect has supported the development of a high-speed rail network, encouraging the increase of domestic rail freight capacity and proposing a National Infrastructure Reinvestment bank to expand and enhance existing federal transportation investments.
“This independent entity will be directed to invest in our nation’s most challenging transportation infrastructure needs,” the campaign said. “The Bank will receive an infusion of federal money, $60 billion over 10 years, to provide financing to transportation infrastructure projects across the nation. These projects will create up to two million new direct and indirect jobs and stimulate approximately $35 billion per year in new economic activity.”
In a National Public Radio interview during the campaign, Obama said “No doubt we have to invest more in our infrastructure. You see it in rural communities around the country, where bridges and roads are not being kept up…That’s why I put forward a $60 billion infrastructure investment plan, which would be financed, in part, by bringing an end to the war in Iraq. I’m also very interested in taking a look at innovations all around the country to deal with improvements in mass transit and reduce congestion… The basic notion that we should do what we can to reduce congestion, to reduce pollution, to reduce consumption of foreign oil and to then to reinvest dollars into our infrastructure in mass transit.”