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As concerns about reliance on foreign energy resources increase and we try to combat climate change by reducing our emissions and expanding renewable energy use, there has been an increase in talk about public financing of clean energy improvements.
Can investments in green jobs and energy efficiency revive our national economy? A new study,
which assesses job creation as a result of energy efficiency policies
in California over the last thirty years, argues that it can.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "Fed and Treasury
officials have identified the disease. It's called de-leveraging, or
the unwinding of debt. During the credit boom, financial institutions
and American households took on too much debt." But let's not buy into a false equivalence of "financial
institutions" and those "American households" borrowing beyond their
The Washington State House has voted to establish a comprehensive "green economy jobs growth initiative" that aims to increase the number of green jobs to
25,000 by 2020. "Green jobs" is the term used to describe the
good-paying, sustainable jobs that are created through environmentally
sensible projects. For example, increased energy efficiency
requirements will require work retrofitting buildings all across America with solar panels, insulation and other weatherizing materials. The federal Green Jobs Act of 2007, which authorized $125 million per year to create green jobs worker training programs, was included in the recently enacted Energy Independence and Security Act.
As Congress debates a stimulus to the economy in the wake of the
housing bust, many economists are urging federal leaders to make aid to
state governments a core part of the package. While direct tax rebates
for individuals can help, it will not do much for the economy if states
are forced to cut back on critical spending on public works, health
care, and education at the same time. As Nobel prize-winning economist
Joseph Stiglitz, who was also chair of the President's Council of
Economic Advisors in the 1990s, wrote this week in the New York Times:
Portland, Oregon city officials introduced
a bold new plan that would require energy efficiency measures in each
new home built. The plan would impose a carbon fee on builders for each
new home that is not extremely energy efficient and also require an
energy efficiency report be done by home inspectors as part of every
existing home sale. The plan would also pay cash rewards to developers
who built buildings that save at least 45% more energy than the Oregon
building code would require. The City Council will start public
hearings on the plan in January.
The public is fed up. They know that every barrel of oil we import from
the Middle East helps regimes who don't share America's interest. Every
gallon of gas burned on America's roadways contributes to asthma for
children. And every time we import our energy, we're creating jobs
abroad instead of here at home. There are alternatives to America's
current dependence on foreign energy supplies. But don't look to the
federal government to solve them. Their response to America's energy
crisis is to give tax breaks to multinational energy companies raking
in record profits -- a solution that is as short-sighted as it is