Friday, January 16, 2009

Environmentalists Embrace Aspects of House Democrat's American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill

Environmental groups are reacting positively to some aspects of the economic stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats yesterday, particularly those pertaining to clean energy and energy efficiency. The bill contains funding for dozens of pro-environment policies designed to create new green jobs and stimulate economic growth.

A summary of the bill’s funding for green jobs projects can be viewed here:

Green Jobs Central House American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill

Environmentalists have been waiting to see whether or not the incoming Obama administration and its Democratic allies in Congress will be able to follow through on campaign promises to create new green jobs.

The Natural Resources Defense Council praised the bill’s funding for clean energy and energy efficiency projects, but called for more support for public transportation, as well as for water and waste infrastructure.

Statement by Karen Wayland, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Clean energy investments in the bill such as loan guarantees for renewable energy, weatherization of low-income family homes, and a boost to our country's research and development budget will help repower America, create new jobs and reduce our dependence on oil. These are important steps in moving America toward clean energy that will cut global warming pollution and jump-start our economic recovery.”

“Fixing our deteriorating transportation infrastructure and investing in projects that are ready to go will create a transit system for the 21st century. Unfortunately, the proposal includes cuts from Chairman Oberstar's blueprint for transportation infrastructure funding. At a time of erratic energy prices, Congress should use this opportunity to move America away from highways and toward railways and mass transit. The transportation component of the stimulus package underfunds mass transit in deference to highways and bridges, which receive $30 billion compared to $10 billion for public transit and rail.”

“Our nation’s water and waste infrastructure, which is in serious and dangerous disrepair, must be fixed. Investing in the rehabilitation of the existing water system and next generation technologies will create jobs and protect this important resource. Unfortunately, water infrastructure is severely under-funded in Congress's plan for our nation’s economic recovery.”

Friends of the Earth applauded the bill’s funding for clean energy as well. But the group found sections of the bill pertaining to public transportation to be lacking.

Statement by Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder:

“This proposal demonstrates a serious commitment to clean energy with a number of smart and much-needed investments that can create green jobs and be instrumental in our transition to a clean energy economy.”

“Unfortunately, the transportation spending doesn’t take the same forward-thinking approach. The stimulus as it currently stands doesn’t do enough to create green jobs through clean transportation investments, and it doesn’t prevent spending from going to unnecessary new roads that increase pollution and oil consumption. It is particularly disappointing to see that, unlike highway funds, public transportation and passenger rail funds have been cut below the levels suggested by the House Transportation Committee, limiting job creation in these areas. Public transportation investments create 19 percent more jobs per dollar spent than investments in new highways.”

Likewise, Environment America embraced the bill’s support for clean energy and energy efficiency, but called for more funding for transportation and clean water.

Statement by Environment America Washington DC Office Director Ann Aurilio:

“This economic recovery proposal will not only help keep the lights on across America but will make them greener. Investments in clean energy and energy efficiency will put Americans to work in good jobs building a new clean energy economy.”

“Clean energy can be the workhorse of America’s economic recovery. But to fully realize that potential, Congress should do much more for public transportation.”

Statement by Environment America Senior Environmental Attorney John Rumpler:

“The Clean Water funding in this proposal falls short of the immediate potential to put Americans to work on ready to go projects that are urgently needed to safeguard America’s clean water supplies from pollution and waste. ”

“This proposal is a good start and we are calling on Congress to keep it clean. By making clean energy and green infrastructure investments a cornerstone of any economic recovery package, we can make a down payment on solving global warming and ensure a clean, safer, stronger America.”

The National Parks Conservation Associated lauded the bill’s $2.25 billion in funding for America’s long neglected National Parks Service.

Statement by NPCA President Tom Kiernan:

“The House has proposed a bold, significant step toward revitalizing our national parks for our children and grandchildren by creating jobs today. This investment in our national parks is an investment in our quality of life, our heritage, and our future.

“This critically-needed proposal, if passed by Congress and signed into law by President-elect Obama, would bring immediate economic benefits—including approximately 50,000 jobs in rural and urban communities nationwide—and lay a strong foundation for restoring our imperiled national park heritage by 2016, the centennial of the National Park Service.”


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