Imagine a future where government spending went to creating a low-carbon economy, powered by green collar workers and publicly-purposed investments. Instead of government spending that bails out auto industry CEOs and investment bankers on Wall Street, imagine spending that would truly boost the economy while creating real, long-term jobs.
It doesn't need to be a pipe dream. A new report from the Center for American Progress proposes a way for the U.S. government to do just that.
In partnership with the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute, the Center prepared a $100 billion, two-year recovery plan that could create an independent and low-carbon future for the U.S. economy.
In their report, “Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy,” they lay out how this recovery plan would work:
Specifically, we outline in our report a program of investment that would inject $100 billion in federal money into the domestic economy through near-term spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy, while leveraging at least an additional $20 billion in private capital through loan guarantees. The report focuses on strategies that ensure that funds are brought to bear relatively quickly within the timeframe necessary to jumpstart the economy.
This current memo expands on the on the “Green Recovery” report by identifying the specific policies that could be used to drive new investment within a matter of a few months to a year, in some cases offering immediate stimulus, and in others providing meaningful near-term strategies for economic recovery and growth.
They include a list of prioritized policies that they suggest investing in quickly to stimulate all sectors of the economy: transportation, manufacturing, construction, building efficiency, neighborhood revitalization, and workforce development. Below are summaries of the recommended policies:
• Transit agencies and ready-to-go transportation projects: Provide $2 billion in assistance to transit agencies to reduce transit fares and expand services, and begin construction on ready-to-go rail and other projects.
• Refundable residential energy efficiency tax credits: Increase funding for refundable residential energy efficiency tax credits to $5 billion and raise the maximum credit for household efficiency upgrades to $2,000.
• Clean renewable energy bonds: Increase CREB funding for consumer-owned utilities to $5 billion to jump-start renewable energy projects.
• “Cash for Clunkers” rebates for older cars: Initiate a $2.5 billion annual program to purchase and scrap older, more polluting cars, in exchange for an owner agreement to acquire a more efficient vehicle or use alternative transportation.
• The Weatherization Assistance Program: Fully fund the Weatherization Assistance Program at $900 million, the amount Congress is authorized to spend on the program in FY 2009, and build toward a goal of weatherizing 1 million homes.
• Energy efficiency and conservation block grants: Increase appropriation to $6 billion to fund states, cities, and counties in pursuing clean energy projects.
• Solar roofs on federal buildings: Authorize $3.5 billion to install 2,000 megawatts of solar power on federal rooftops, and amend federal electricity contracting to allow for 30-year power purchasing agreements.
• New Starts Transit project investments: Fully fund the New Starts Transit budget at the $6.6 billion authorized in Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users.
• Green school construction and renovation: Support state and local school modernization, renovation, and repair at $7.25 billion.
• Green affordable housing HOME block grants: Supplement block grant funding through the HOME program with $1 billion for energy-related projects.
• HOPE VI program for green community revitalization: Appropriate $800 million for greening HOPE VI projects to meet Energy Star and green communities standards.
• Smart grid federal matching funds: Fund the Smart Grid Title of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to support $1.3 billion for infrastructure investment and demonstration projects.
• Workforce investment in the Green Jobs Act: Increase appropriation for the Green Jobs Act, authorized in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act to $250 million to provide job training and workforce investment in energy efficiency and renewable-energy installations.
• Green jobs restoring the land: Expand existing programs by $800 million to restore parkland, forests, wetlands, wildlife refuges, and rural ecosystems.
• Manufacturing Extension Partnership: Expand the capacity of domestic manufacturing modernization efforts by increasing MEP funding to $200 million.
• Advanced coal technology to capture carbon: Invest $1.1 billion to deploy demonstration carbon capture-and-storage technology at a coal-fired power plant.
• Additional green infrastructure for clean water: Invest in broader community benefits and green jobs with $3 billion in green storm water infrastructure.
From their investment ideas, like clean renewable energy bonds that support American independence from foreign oil, to their recovery projects that create construction and manufacturing jobs for the building of green schools and low-income housing, the ideas outlined in this report plan have real potential to boost the economy and support the low-carbon future we desperately need.
Photo credit: Flickr/Canis Major, CC License
Only $900 million for the Weatherization Program, yet $3.5 billion for solar rooftops? Those numbers should be reversed (or at least weatherization increased). Insulation and home improvement creates more jobs per dollar than any other kind of expenditure, and is the cheapest way to "generate energy" (by not needing it).
Very interesting, with John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress, leading Obama's transition team, perhaps we will see this proposal come to fruition with the new administration.