Even in the current troubled economy — and because of it — there will be historically large amounts of money and projects for energy-related programs in the Obama administration, according to Slade Gorton, a Seattle attorney and former Republican senator.

Gorton gave an opening address at a two-day energy conference — “Buying and Selling Electric Power in the West” — Thursday in Seattle. The former three-term senator from Washington state said he thinks energy policy in the new administration will be more concentrated in the White House than it has been in any previous administration.

Gorton said most of this year’s projected $2 trillion federal budget deficit will be attributable to energy programs, driven by a climate change agenda that will spur “fierce competition” for the monies.

Given President-elect Obama’s recent remarks on his proposed stimulus package, energy spending will emphasize four broad areas, Gorton said:

“The Obama administration will have more money to spend [on energy programs] than any other and is likely to spend it on more radical and future-oriented projects than any other administration in history,” Gorton said. “Competition for all this new money will be fierce, of course — federal agencies, states and the private sector will ask for five to 10 dollars for every dollar available even from a generous Congress — but the new administration’s high profile on green energy’s future will guarantee a bonanza for programs consistent with its message.”

In this mix, Gorton said the new administration is likely to “neither encourage nor discourage” nuclear power, and traditional coal “will be a big loser.”

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