Thursday, January 29, 2009

Only 16 Percent Of Stimulus Is Green

Climate Progress evaluates the stimulus bill:
The stimulus package must do more than spark a short-term boost to the economy. It must invest in the nation’s mid- and long-term economic security - and that security must be based on a new energy economy that reverses the growth in greenhouse gas emissions and weans us from our dependence on fossil fuels.


By HSBC’s calculation, 16% of the proposed $825 billion stimulus package targets green investments. One of the key questions Congress must ask, and answer quickly, is whether that’s sufficient stimulus for a new energy economy and sufficient evidence of U.S. leadership. Put another way: How much of our children’s money will we spend on life-support for the old carbon economy and how much will we invest to build the new one?


By my reckoning, a 16% share of the stimulus package is not enough.

As it puts the final touches on the stimulus bill, Congress should substantially increase the green investment, in part by making sure that every relevant element of the package gives highest priority to reducing carbon emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels.


For example, our investment in “shovel ready” road and bridge projects should take greenhouse gas emissions into account, lest we dig ourselves deeper into carbon debt. In a study commissioned by the Presidential Climate Action Project, the Center for Neighborhood Technology concluded that reducing vehicle miles traveled with mass transit and more intelligent urban planning is just as important as new vehicle technologies and fuels in reducing carbon emissions. Yet current federal policy rewards pollution by basing transportation funding on road miles, fuel consumption and vehicle miles traveled. Under current policy, the federal government pays 80 percent of road projects but only 50 percent for mass transit projects. In this case, as in many others, federal spending is moving us down the wrong road.


Radical change is what we need now in federal spending. A green revolution to a new energy economy — with all of the financial security and new jobs it would create — should be the core goal of the stimulus package.

Given my horror (not surprise, just horror) at the pork and protectionism rampant in the bill that passed the House, I'm now solidly against that version of the package. But I still believe the green provisions are essential. So how about a $132 billion (16 percent of $825 billion) green-only stimulus? Maybe with some broadband Internet expansion thrown in on top?

I know, I know, keep on dreaming.

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