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.”


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Green Jobs Central in House American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill

The House Committee on Appropriations has released a summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill that includes new details about federal funding for dozens of projects designed to create new green jobs and stimulate economic growth. The bill is one version of the economic stimulus package being negotiated by members of the incoming Obama administration and lawmakers in Congress. Last week President-Elect Barack Obama said that he wants to create around half a million new green jobs nationwide.

According to the summary, the House version of the stimulus package includes:

Reliable, Efficient Electricity Grid: $11 billion for research and development, pilot projects, and federal matching funds for the Smart Grid Investment Program to modernize the electricity grid making it more efficient, secure, and reliable and build new power lines to transmit clean, renewable energy from sources throughout the nation.

Renewable Energy Loan Guarantees: $8 billion for loans for renewable energy power generation and transmission projects.

GSA Federal Buildings: $6.7 billion for renovations and repairs to federal buildings including at least $6 billion focused on increasing energy efficiency and conservation.

Local Government Energy Efficiency Block Grants: $6.9 billion to help state and local governments make investments that make them more energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.

Energy Efficiency Housing Retrofits: $2.5 billion for a new program to upgrade HUD sponsored low-income housing to increase energy efficiency, including new insulation, windows, and furnaces.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research: $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities to foster energy independence, reduce carbon emissions, and cut utility bills.

Advanced Battery Loans and Grants: $2 billion for the Advanced Battery Loan Guarantee and Grants Program, to support U.S. manufacturers of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems.

Energy Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions: $1.5 billion for energy sustainability and efficiency grants and loans to help school districts, institutes of higher education, local governments, and municipal utilities implement projects that will make them more energy efficient.

Home Weatherization: $6.2 billion to help low-income families reduce their energy costs by weatherizing their homes and make our country more energy efficient.

Smart Appliances: $300 million to provide consumers with rebates for buying energy efficient Energy Star products to replace old appliances, which will lower energy bills.

GSA Federal Fleet: $600 million to replace older vehicles owned by the federal government with alternative fuel automobiles that will save on fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions.

Electric Transportation: $200 million for a new grant program to encourage electric vehicle technologies.

Cleaning Fossil Energy: $2.4 billion for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects. This funding will provide valuable information necessary to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from industrial facilities and fossil fuel power plants.

Department of Defense Research: $350 million for research into using renewable energy to power weapons systems and military bases.

Alternative Buses and Trucks: $400 million to help state and local governments purchase efficient alternative fuel vehicles to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions.

Industrial Energy Efficiency: $500 million for energy efficient manufacturing demonstration projects.

Diesel Emissions Reduction: $300 million for grants and loans to state and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emissions, benefiting public health and reducing global warming.

Department of Energy: $400 million for the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy to support high-risk, high- payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency.

NASA: $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Satellites and Sensors: $600 million for satellite development and acquisitions, including climate sensors and climate modeling.

New Construction of Commuter & Light Rail Systems: $1 billion for Capital Investment Grants for new commuter rail or other light rail systems to increase public use of mass transit and to speed projects already in construction.

Upgrades and Repair to Public Transit Systems: $2 billion to modernize existing transit systems, including renovations to stations, security systems, computers, equipment, structures, signals, and communications.

Transit Capital Assistance: $6 billion to purchase buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities.

Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Construction Grants: $1.1 billion to improve the speed and capacity of intercity passenger rail service. The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General estimates the North East Corridor alone has a backlog of over $10 billion.

Veterans Medical Facilities: $950 million for veterans’ medical facilities. The Department has identified a $5 billion backlog in needed repairs, including energy efficiency projects, at its 153 medical facilities.

Construction on Public Lands and Parks: $3.1 billion for infrastructure projects on federal lands including improvements to visitor facilities, road and trail restoration, preservation of buildings of cultural and historic importance, rehabilitation of abandoned mines and oil fields, and environmental cleanup projects. This includes $1.8 billion for the National Park Service, $325 million for the Bureau of Land Management, $300 million for the National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries, and $650 million for the Forest Service.

Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $6 billion for loans to help communities upgrade wastewater treatment systems.

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $2 billion for loans for drinking water infrastructure.

Rural Water and Waste Disposal: $1.5 billion to support $3.8 billion in grants and loans to help communities fund drinking water and wastewater treatment systems.

Superfund Hazardous Waste Cleanup: $800 million to clean up hazardous and toxic waste sites that threaten health and the environment.

Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: $200 million for enforcement and cleanup of petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks at approximately 1,600 additional sites.

Nuclear Waste Cleanup: $500 million for nuclear waste cleanup at sites contaminated as a result of the nation’s past nuclear activities.

Closed Military Bases: $300 million for cleanup activities at closed military installations allowing local communities to redevelop these properties for productive use.

NOAA Habitat Restoration: $400 million for ready-to-go habitat restoration projects.

Brownfields: $100 million for competitive grants for evaluation and cleanup of former industrial and commercial sites - turning them from problem properties to productive community use.

School Construction: $20 billion, including $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education, for renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades and energy efficiency improvements.

Training and Employment Services: $4 billion for job training including formula grants for adult, dislocated worker, and youth services (including $1.2 billion to create up to one million summer jobs for youth). The needs of workers also will be met through dislocated worker national emergency grants, new competitive grants for worker training in high growth and emerging industry sectors (with priority consideration to “green” jobs and healthcare), and increased funds for the YouthBuild program. Green jobs training will include preparing workers for activities supported by other economic recovery funds, such as retrofitting of buildings, green construction, and the production of renewable electric power.

Public Housing Capital Fund: $5 billion for building repair and modernization, including critical safety repairs. $4 billion of the funds will be distributed to public housing authorities through the existing formula and $1 billion will be awarded through a competitive process for projects that improve energy efficiency.

HOME Investment Partnerships: $1.5 billion to help local communities build and rehabilitate low- income housing using green technologies.

Native American Housing Block Grants: $500 million to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency at some of the over 42,000 housing units maintained by Native American housing programs.

Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Program: $10 million for rural, high-need areas to undertake projects using sustainable and energy-efficient building and rehabilitation practices.

Lead Paint: $100 million for competitive grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to remove lead-based paint hazards in low-income housing.

Although the bill is still far from becoming law, it contains many projects designed to create new green jobs and stimulate economic growth. You can help make sure that the final version of the economic stimulus package contains funding for green jobs by contacting your representatives in Congress:

Contact your Representative

Contact your Senator

Click here to read the complete summary


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

National Parks Conservation Association: New Deal Style Investment in National Parks Could Create 57,000 Jobs

A New Deal style policy investing $2.5 billion in the National Parks Service could create more than 57,000 new jobs nationwide, according to a recent report published by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). I talked to Tom Hill, NPCA's Legislative Representative, to learn more about the report.

The National Parks system has suffered from chronic underfunding for many years, according to Hill. In fact, funding falls about $750 million short of what is needed each year. This shortfall has led to a widespread deterioration in park infrastructure. Unmaintained roads, trails, and bridges pose real safety threats to park visitors, and irreplaceable historic buildings are crumbling due to lack of repair. The total backlog for road repair and maintenance alone totals a staggering $8.5 billion.

"National Parks should be a priority," says Hill, noting that the parks are part of our national heritage.

But Hill is also eager for people to know about the economic benefits of the park system. A recent NPCA study that found that "...every dollar invested in national parks generates at least $4 in economic value to the public." Hill describes funding for the National Parks System as an investment that can produce very real economic returns. He explains that spending money to improve park infrastructure can create new jobs both directly and indirectly. Improvements in infrastructure can lead to increased use of the parks by the public, which means more tourist dollars and new economic opportunities for states and local communities.

Lawmakers in Washington are eager to include "shovel ready" projects in the economic stimulus package. Hill is confident that the plan advocated by the NPCA fall into that category. In fact the National Park Service has $1 billion in ready-to-go projects awaiting funding.

"They fall into the category of things that can put people to work quickly," he notes.

While most of the policy makers approached by the NPCA have been supportive of the group's proposals, Hill believes that the details of the economic stimulus package probably won't become clear until after President-Elect Barack Obama is sworn into office next week.

"It continues to be important for people to let their own members of Congress know that taking care of National Parks should be a priority," says Hill. "In this case it can also stimulate economic growth."

You can help the NPCA send a strong message to Congress by writing a letter to editor of your local newspaper. Tell them you want your representatives in Congress to create new jobs by investing in the future of America's national parks!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama: Economic Stimulus Plan Will Create 500,000 New Green Jobs

Last week, President-Elect Barack Obama’s said that his economic stimulus plan will create half a million new green jobs for America.

“We’ll create nearly half a million jobs by investing in clean energy – by committing to double the production of alternative energy in the next three years, and by modernizing more than 75% of federal buildings and improving the energy efficiency of two million American homes,” the president elect said. These made-in-America jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, developing fuel-efficient cars and new energy technologies pay well, and they can’t be outsourced.”

Watch the complete address:

The statement came as Obama discussed his plans to create 3 to 4 million new jobs nationwide. The President-Elect told the nation that immediate and dramatic action is needed to reverse the current economic downturn.

As a candidate for president, Barack Obama made it that clean energy and green jobs would figure heavily into his plans to invigorate the economy. As the president-elect, Obama has remained true to that commitment. But he can't do it alone.

Show your support for policies that will promote clean energy, create new green jobs, and help the environment!

Support We Can Solve It's Repower America Plan for 100% Clean Electricity in 10 Years!

Join the Sierra Club in urging your representatives in Congress to support a green stimulus package!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Renewegy To Create Green Jobs In Wisconsin Thanks To $250,000 Loan From State

A $250,000 Technology Venture Fund loan from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce should help Renewegy, LLC create up to 60 new green jobs. A press release stated that the loan will help Renewegy buy equipment it will need to “…bring high efficiency hybrid propulsion systems, components, and services to its customers.”

"Renewegy is exactly the type of company our state should be investing in - companies that are developing innovative solutions that will free our state and country from its dependence on foreign oil," Wisonsin Governor Doyle said. "Supporting companies like Renewegy will create jobs and drive our economy while making our world cleaner and more secure."


Read the full press release

Visit the website of Renewegy, LLC

View the Green Jobs USA Interactive Map

The Green Jobs Report blog