Clean Energy, Bright Future: Rebuilding America Through Green Infrastructure

Released by: Environment America

Executive Summary

Our reliance on dirty energy is fueling global warming, harming our health, threatening our security and stalling our economy. Burning coal, oil and gas for energy and transportation is responsible for 80 percent of U.S. global warming pollution and most of our smog and soot pollution.

We can protect our environment and strengthen our economy by investing in clean energy and green infrastructure. A green economic recovery plan would mean less global warming pollution, fewer asthma attacks from air pollution, more clean lakes and rivers for drinking water, swimming and fishing, more secure energy in the long term, and more jobs than investing in the dirty energy technologies of the past.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to make clean energy and green infrastructure a cornerstone of America’s economic recovery. In his first radio address of 2009, the president-elect said "to put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will double renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.”

This report provides specific recommendations in support of the president-elect’s efforts to ensure a green economic recovery and estimates the environmental benefits of those recommendations. These proposals, when fully implemented over the next decade, would reduce annual global warming pollution by nearly 10 percent below current levels and reduce oil consumption equivalent to taking one million cars off the road each year. These proposals would begin to transition America to a clean energy economy and put more than three million people to work quickly in ready-to-go projects. This is nearly as many jobs as Obama has called for creating with the entire stimulus package.

The following measures represent initiatives that will have the most significant impact in promoting cleaner energy and creating quality jobs:

RENEWABLE ENERGY

  • Ensure effective incentives for clean, renewable energy
  • Expand the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds
  • Fund the Green Jobs Act

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

  • Fund energy efficiency and conservation block grants
  • Expand the home weatherization program
  • Create a home and commercial building retrofit program

CLEANER TRANSPORTATION

  • Fully fund New Starts transit capital projects
  • Transit modernization and rehabilitation
  • Increase transit operations and energy assistance grants

These and other recommended clean energy and green infrastructure initiatives totaling $150 billion dollars in federal investment would have significant environmental and economic impacts:

  • Reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 670 million tons per year when fully implemented over the next decade, which represents a reduction of nearly 10 percent of

America’s current annual global warming pollution.1 This represents a significant step towards reducing the nation’s global warming pollution to what scientists say is necessary to avert the worst impacts of global warming.

  • Replace the power equivalent of 170 coal-fired power plants with renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our proposals to extend the renewable energy Production Tax Credit and invest in renewable energy on federal property, among others, would reduce significant global warming pollution and create hundreds of thousands of new, clean energy jobs.
  • Reduce oil consumption by more than 25 million barrels annually by meeting growing demand for mass transit and cleaner alternatives to driving. This would be equivalent to taking nearly one million cars off the road each year. These benefits would increase substantially over time as our transportation system becomes more and more efficient, rather than more polluting and congested.

In crafting a green economic recovery package, our leaders have an unprecedented opportunity on three fronts:

  • Putting the nation on a path to avert a global warming crisis;
  • Providing a massive stimulus to the economy and putting millions of workers to work in quality jobs;
  • Invigorating America as we lead the world to a clean energy future.
  • An economic recovery package with smart clean energy and green infrastructure
  • investments can put America on course to save our environment by rebuilding our economy through creating quality jobs and developing new industries and technologies.

This report provides a comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best accomplish a green recovery based on research and analysis from throughout the environmental community, to include public, private and non-profit entities. Environmental, employment and fiscal impacts are assessed within each proposal based on previously conducted studies, in addition to primary and secondary research.