Congress is expected to give final approval to a massive economic stimulus package in the next couple of weeks. But before it does, there’s important work to be done on the color and content of the package. Lawmakers should address three questions:
o Is the package green enough?
o Is it visionary enough?
o Can the beneficiaries handle the money?
I’ll offer some thoughts on each of these questions in a three-part post, starting with the green issue.
First, it’s important to understand is that the White House has the fundamentals right: 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.
That is the first intelligent energy policy to come out of the White House in a decade. As Congress finalizes the stimulus packages proposed by the Obama Administration and House Democrats, Job No. 1 is to keep that enlightened strategy intact.
Job No. 2 is to make the package greener. There are a couple of reasons a greener stimulus is important. First, renewable energy industries are America’s next IT revolution, with critical benefits for national security, economic stability, new industries and new jobs. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen unprecedented investments in wind and solar power worldwide. The U.S. wind industry set a record last year, installing enough generating capacity to serve more than 2 million homes and pumping $17 billion into the economy, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
But those investments are slowing in the economic downturn. Continued...
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