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Senate Picks Up House-Passed Stimulus Plan, Adds Clean Coal

Robert C. ByrdEarlier this week the House passed a version of President Obama’s $825 bn stimulus plan, which would devote over $68 billion to green technology development. The plan passed despite getting ‘nay’ed by every present Republican.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn to debate and vote on the legislation. Their version of the bill, however, includes a plan to put over $4.6 billion of that budget towards coal-related projects.

Details are continuously changing, but some would go toward the Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative, the building of new “near-zero emissions” plants, and the installation of carbon capture systems.

Senator Robert C. Byrd.of West Virginia, the main voice of the coal provisions, noted that clean coal can be part of a larger, diverse green energy plan. Environmental advocates, however, warn that Congress may not follow through with strict restrictions for limiting coal emissions. Many argue that there is no such thing as “clean coal.”

Critics are worried that the green energy plans set forth will lead to supporting pork projects that never truly help the small businesses who are being encouraged to invest in renewable energy.

Others note that in the rush to create and pass the bill, funds can be easily misplaced. The U.S. has also been facing more pressure to pass legislation to move forward with climate goals before scheduled international talks in Copenhagen in December.

Still, should Obama’s legislation pass in some form, green energy companies and others focused on cutting emissions will likely see a significant boost. The stimulus plan still has hurdles to jump, as the House version and the Senate version (should it pass) will have to be combined – and both will have to vote again on the new version.

Obama hopes the plan will eventually save taxpayers over $2 bn annually in federal energy costs.

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