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August 12, 1999: Growing Clean Energy for the 21st Century

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"If we can make the raw material of tomorrow's economy living, renewable resources, instead of fossil fuels, which pollute the atmosphere and warm the planet, the future of our children and our grandchildren, the likelihood that there will be more prosperity -- and peace -- all that will be far greater."

President Bill Clinton
Thursday, August 12, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton announced new steps to spur bio-based technologies that can help grow the economy, enhance US. energy security, and meet environmental challenges like global warming. The President issued an executive order to accelerate these 21st century technologies which can convert crops, trees, and other "biomass" into a vast array of fuels and materials and set a goal of tripling the nation's use of bioenergy and bioproducts by 2010. In addition, the President called on Congress to approve his proposed research funding and tax credits to promote energy efficiency, bioenergy, and other clean-energy sources.

New Technologies for a New Century Biomass is a clean, domestic, and renewable source of energy, derived from trees, crops, and agricultural wastes, that can be used to make low-polluting products like transportation fuels, electricity, and commercial products such as chemicals, glues, paints, furniture, and textiles. Recent scientific advances are making bioenergy and bioproducts more technically feasible and economically viable. Energy from biomass sources currently accounts for about 3 percent of the total U.S. energy supply.

Leadership Through Executive Order President Clinton, in an executive memorandum, set a goal of tripling the nation's use of bioenergy and bioproducts by 2010. If this goal is reached, it would:

  • create $15 billion to $20 billion in new income through high-tech jobs and economic opportunities for farmers and many rural communities;
  • reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming, by up to 100 million tons the equivalent of taking more than 70 million cars off the road; and
  • allow us to cut back on the almost 4 billion barrels of oil we are projected to import in 2010.

The President also signed an executive order which:

  • establishes a council to develop a biomass research program to be presented annually as part of the federal budget;
  • directs the council to review major agency regulations, incentives and programs to ensure that they effectively promote the use of bioproducts and bioenergy; and
  • creates an outside advisory group with representatives from bio-based industries, farm and forestry sectors, universities, and environmental groups.

A Record of Promoting Energy Efficiency Today's executive action builds on the Clinton-Gore Administration's record of strong and consistent support for bio-based industries, including:

  • a bill requiring that 7.5 percent of all U.S. electricity come from renewable resources by 2010;
  • an executive order instructing federal agencies to make use of bio-based products;
  • new proposed tax credits for bio-based electricity production; and
  • increased research funding for federal agencies.

President Clinton's FY 2000 budget contains $242 million for investments in biomass research, development and deployment However, to date, Congress has not only failed to enact the President's proposed new tax credits, but has terminated the current 1.5 cent per kilowatt credit and cut the President's budget request by 14 percent.

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