Muckraker: Grist on Politics

A coalition of 17 environmental groups on Thursday offered their plan for an economic-recovery package, one that would direct nearly $171 billion to green programs over the next two years.

The plan covers a variety of sectors, calling for investments of nearly $12 billion for energy efficiency, $47.5 billion for renewable energy, $59 billion for transportation, $33.5 to upgrade the nation’s water systems, $1.3 billion to improve electricity transmission, and $1.7 billion for environmental education and service projects.

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At a press conference to unveil their proposal, environmental leaders said most of the jobs that would be created by their plan — in the fields of construction, engineering, electrical work, and renewables, among others — couldn’t be outsourced. The leaders also said that a number of their proposed projects are “ready to go” — they just need funding.

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“Putting America on the path to a new, clean-energy economy means more secure energy in the long term; less global-warming pollution; fewer asthma attacks from air pollution; more clean lakes and rivers for drinking water, swimming, and fishing; and more good jobs right here at home,” said Anna Aurilio, director of the Washington D.C. office of Environment America.

Colin Peppard, the transportation coordinator for Friends of the Earth, said the transit funding should focus on improving existing highways, roads, and bridges, rather than expanding capacity, and should include substantial funding for Amtrak, intercity rail, and bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

To promote renewable energy, the green groups want to see an extension of the production and investment tax credits, $5 billion for renewable-energy bonds, and $10 billion to put renewable-energy systems — like solar panels — on federal property. The plan also calls for $4 billion in loan guarantees for advanced technology vehicles and fuels.

On the efficiency front, the groups call for $6 billion for energy-efficiency tax credits, as well as additional funding for efficiency and conservation block grants, the weatherization grant program, and funding to retrofit schools and government buildings.

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Obama himself outlined plans to invest in energy efficiency in his weekly radio address last weekend, though his call for a “massive effort” to make buildings more efficient didn’t include a dollar figure.

The groups seemed enthusiastic that the Obama team recognizes the value of these kinds of investments. “We’re very excited that President-elect Obama sees economic recovery and a new energy economy as two sides of the same coin,” said Peppard.

Here are the groups that signed on to the recovery plan:

  • American Rivers
  • National Audubon Society
  • Clean Water Action
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Environment America
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Greenpeace
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • Sierra Club
  • Trust for Public Land
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • The Wilderness Society