Friday, April 3, 2009

$23 Million in Stimulus Money For Improving Energy Efficiency in Low-Income Homes

Concord, New Hampshire - A state run program that works to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs in low-income homes will receive more than $23 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The investment will create an estimated 184 new green jobs in New Hampshire, according to the Office of Energy and Planning (OEP).

The money will go to the State of New Hampshire’s Weatherization Program, and will be used to provide services to 3,500 or more low-income households in the Granite State. The program is a part of the US Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which has assisted more than 6 million low-income families nationwide since its founding in 1976.

The investment will do more than just create do new green jobs and help struggling families though. The New Hampshire Climate Action Plan produced by Governor John Lynch’s Climate Change Task Force identifies improving energy efficiency in homes as one way to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Buildings accounted for about a third of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2005, according to Task Force. Granted, this figure includes emissions from business and industrial buildings as well.  Still, the plan identifies programs that improve energy efficiency in homes as a shovel ready means for curbing global warming pollution.

“The technology, equipment and expertise exist today to substantially reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool the average existing home, as well as to make new homes efficient from the offset,” according to the New Hampshire Climate Action Plan. “Studies have shown that existing homes can made anywhere from 15 to 60 percent more efficient by the use of improved air sealing, insulation, and equipment.”

These are precisely the type of improvements that will be made to low-income homes in New Hampshire thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The New Hampshire Climate Action Plan sets a goal of reducing net energy consumption in 30,000 homes by 60 percent. The more than $23 million in federal stimulus money that will go towards improving energy efficiency in low-income homes will help jump-start the state's efforts to meet this important goal.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Greenpeace urges New Hampshire Senators Gregg and Shaheen to support President's Budget

Concord, New Hampshire – Local Greenpeace field organizer David Pomerantz urged New Hampshire Senators Judd Gregg and Jeanne Shaheen to support President Barack Obama’s budget at a press conference held at the Legislative Office Building in Concord on Tuesday.

“America is facing bigger challenges than we’ve seen in generations – a collapsing global economy, soaring unemployment rates, and a rapidly warming climate,” said Pomerantz.

“President Obama’s budget recognizes that the solution to all three problems is the same: we must move America to a clean energy future that will create green jobs, end our dependence on foreign oil and curb global warming while we still can.”

The President’s budget calls for the development of a cap and trade system designed to reduce the nation’s greenhouse emissions 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Towards this end the budget includes a $19 million dollar increase in funding for related Environmental Protection Agency programs, including work on a national greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The budget also provides support for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs designed to create new green jobs and stimulate economic growth.

After the press conference, Pomerantz told me that he expects Senator Shaheen to vote in favor of the budget, noting that as a candidate she campaigned strongly on clean energy, global warming, and green jobs.

Pomerantz described Senator Gregg as an outspoken opponent of the president’s budget. Still, he noted, Gregg had voted in support of global warming legislation in the past. That gave him hope that the veteran Senator might help block amendments aimed at removing the global warming provisions of the budget. "New Hampshire voters also know that Senator Gregg will be a crucial swing vote in climate legislation later this year, and we hope he aligns himself with his state's best interests by casting a vote for a safe climate."

Global warming is a hot issue in New Hampshire these days. Governor John Lynch’s Climate Change Task Force recently released the New Hampshire Climate Action Plan, and a public debate has been raging over the future of the state’s only coal burning power plant, Merrimack Station. The plant is responsible for around 20 percent of New Hampshire’s greenhouse gas emissions. Pomerantz offered a few comments about the future of coal power in America.

“Coal is the leading source of global warming pollution in this country,” he said. He went on to cite a recent Greenpeace report,Energy {r}evolution, that found that the United States could use existing clean energy technology to meet all of its energy needs by 2050, without coal or nuclear power. The same report found that existing clean energy technology could be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels 85 percent below current levels by 2050.

Pomerantz also expressed confidence that the energy needs of New Hampshire will one day be met using clean, renewable sources of energy. "But broadly speaking, the U.S. can get off coal very quickly if we stop building new coal plants and rapidly invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy like wind and solar power", he added

The press conference was organized by a coalition of advocacy groups working to rally local grassroots support for President Obama’s budget as part of a nationwide campaign called Rebuild and Renew America Now! Participants included Every Child Matters, Granite State Progress, Greenpeace New England, NH Citizens Alliance for Action, SEIU’s Change That Works, Seacoast for Change Grassroots Network, and Working Families Win. Speakers sought to frame the budget as a blueprint for confronting the current economic crisis, as well as for address other long-term challenges facing the nation.

“President Obama’s proposed budget returns fairness to our tax code, takes control of the federal deficit, and makes significant down payments on quality, affordable healthcare for America, world-class education, and a clean energy future,” said Sarah Chaisson Warner of NH Citizens Alliance.

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