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Posted at 12:08 PM ET, 02/14/2011

Budget 2012: Environment

By Steven Mufson

In President Obama's new budget plan, the idea of comprehensive climate legislation appears to have disappeared into thin air

The phrase cap and trade -- the touchstone of the climate legislation battles over the past two years -- does not appear in the 216-page budget summary. Nor is there any mention of climate legislation or its impact. In fiscal year 2011, the administration included a line in its revenue projections for climate change legislation, but it left it blank because it said that climate change laws would be deficit neutral after using revenues to pay for investments in new technology and to offset higher energy prices for "vulnerable families."

There are still references to "climate" and the budget says the president remains committed to cutting greenhouse emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. But the items in the budget are smaller and piecemeal. There are a few million dollars in the Agriculture Department budget for climate research, a nod toward climate science in the Commerce Department, money for promoting electric vehicles and more efficient buildings in the Energy Department budget, and $73 million in the Interior budget to permit renewable energy projects on federal land.

To some extent, the change in language is both a recognition of the changed political dynamics in Washington, and an effort to head off a GOP assault on the president's clean energy priorities. House Republicans have already unveiled priorities that would slash the Environmental Protection Agency's annual budget, and cut some of Obama's top programs aimed at curbing the nation's carbon output.

Budget 2012 analysis: Full list of agencies

By Steven Mufson  | February 14, 2011; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Next: Budget 2012: Food and Drug Administration

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