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Obama unyielding on energy proposals

Budget pushes R&D tax credits

By Philip Elliott
Associated Press / March 24, 2009
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WASHINGTON - President Obama declared yesterday that the nation must move quickly to develop clean and innovative sources of energy after years of delay.

"We can remain the world's leading importer of foreign oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy," Obama said at a White House event intended to draw attention to his energy proposals.

Administration officials say his campaign promise to explore new sources of renewable energy is one element of his budget that is nonnegotiable. Obama is devoting much of his time these days to build support for his $3.6 trillion budget proposal, which includes almost $75 billion over 10 years to make permanent a tax credit for research and experimentation.

Obama's budget would invest billions more in research designed to reduce climate change and guarantee loans for companies that develop clean energy technologies.

Speaking to entrepreneurs in the fields of energy, Obama told them their country needs them to create jobs and be inventive. In turn, he said, "Your country will support you. Your president will support you."

The president pointed out specific businesses that are creating energy jobs, and praised his new science adviser, John Holdren, who came from Harvard, and MIT's president, Susan Hockfield, for research being done there.

The administration's $787 billion stimulus package includes $39 billion for the Department of Energy and $20 billion in tax incentives for clean energy.

Declaring leadership in science "vital to America's prosperity, energy security and global competitiveness," Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced yesterday that $1.2 billion in stimulus money will be distributed to nine national laboratories across the country.

Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, made the announcement after touring the Brookhaven National Laboratory on eastern Long Island. The lab will be receiving $184 million in stimulus money, including $150 million to build a light source that aims to create the brightest X-ray source in the world.

The project, called National Synchrotron Light Source II, would produce X-rays about 10,000 times brighter than an existing version at the lab, used by about 2,100 researchers a year. Scientists hope the new version would yield breakthroughs in disciplines including biology, medicine, chemistry, environmental sciences and physics.

Obama and his aides have begun an aggressive effort for the president's budget - including a prime-time news conference today - that contains many of his campaign promises but that faces opposition from members of both parties. The core principles are providing affordable health coverage, improving education, and diversifying the nation's energy supply with a focus on so-called green jobs.

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