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For Immediate Release, January 25, 2011

Contact: Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Obama Plan to Eliminate Oil Subsidies a Good First Step, But "Clean Energy" Shouldn’t Include Coal, Nuclear, Biofuels or Natural Gas

TUCSON, Ariz.— President Barack Obama tonight called on Congress to eliminate billions of dollars of subsidies and tax breaks given to oil companies, and to divert those monies to research on and development of clean energies. While the president did not specify which subsidies and tax breaks would be targeted, the White House previously helped craft a bill to eliminate $20 billion in oil subsidies over 10 years.

“We applaud the president’s call for eliminating tax breaks for oil companies,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Clean, renewable fuels can’t compete on a level playing field as long as billions in taxpayer funds are diverted to oil industry subsidies.

“But I’m alarmed that the president included biofuels, nuclear power, coal and natural gas in his list of clean energies,” Suckling said. “Converting oil subsidies to coal subsidies is like a dieter switching from cheeseburgers to milkshakes. It won’t work. It’s essential that coal-fired power plants be phased out as soon as possible if we’re to avoid catastrophic, runaway global warming.

“The president’s call for ensuring that 80 percent of America’s electricity comes from clean energy sources by 2035 is also not what it seems,” said Suckling. “According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity use in the United States will increase threefold between 2009 and 2035. This increase will significantly offset any gains from switching to 80 percent clean energy, especially if ‘clean energy’ is defined to include coal and natural gas. We won’t solve the global warming crisis by passing the buck to the next generation. We need deep and immediate cuts in greenhouse pollution, including the elimination of coal-fired power plants, now if we’re going to avoid the worst effects of this global crisis.

“The president’s call for having 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015 is similarly anemic,” Suckling said. “His modest goal falls far short of what’s needed to get America’s energy and transportation systems on the right track.”

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