Green Jobs + Renewable Energy = A Stronger Nation

“It’s big, it’s bold, it’s green, and while winning it wasn’t pretty or easy, it was well worth the effort,” said Andrew Huff of Environment Iowa, referring to the recently enacted economic recovery package.

On February 17, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Then, in an address to a joint session of the Congress on February 25, he told our nation, “Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90% of these jobs will be in the private sector — jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit.”

The American Recovery

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act promises to redraw our energy picture.

The priorities Mr. Obama outlined focus first on energy. “Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years,” he said.

“We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

“But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest $15 billion a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

President Obama’s budget priorities will include those signed into law in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, so let’s look there for more specifics about what our Congress has promised in the 1,073 page document. How much of the spending will actually go to green jobs, like those Mr. Obama mentioned in Wednesday’s speech? With help from Andrew Huff, BPGL has pulled together the following list of not-to-miss items from the economic recovery bill:

  • $80 billion for clean energy, public transportation and green infrastructure, the largest such investment in our nation’s history.
  • 1.6 million new green jobs, including 135,000 green jobs created by a $4.5 billion investment in greening federal buildings.
  • A 68 million ton reduction in our nation’s carbon footprint, a cut equivalent to a city the size of Chicago, IL going completely carbon-free.
  • Energy renewability and efficiency through research and development of biomass, geothermal, hydrokinetic, hydropower, advanced battery systems and electric vehicles.
  • Thanks in part to 20,000 online petition signatures urging congressional leaders to keep President Obama’s recovery plan clean and green, Congress dropped a controversial $50 billion loan guarantee for the coal and nuclear industries.

Did you know?  The law also includes:

  • River restoration projects as well as habitat restoration on public lands.
  • Watershed infrastructure improvements, including purchase and restoration of floodplain easements.
  • Increased assistance for residential and business renewable energy and energy conservation projects.
  • Weatherization assistance programs for government buildings, private homes and business.
  • Modernization of the nation’s electrical grid to conserve energy and accommodate new energy technologies.

This represents an enormous down payment on a new energy future for America.  Now it is the task of the Obama administration, the various governmental agencies who will be implementing some of the projects, the major recipients of the green dollars, and the public (you and me) to pay attention and provide feedback to our governmental leaders as we witness these projects unfold.  Transparency only works if people are watching.

Miriam Kashia

International Editor/Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)