New Energy Economy gets jumpstart from Congress

Environment Colorado

Denver, CO – Colorado congressional representatives seized an opportunity to repower America and rebuild the economy by making bold investments in clean energy and energy efficiency in helping to pass the economic recovery bill. The “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” passed the U.S. House of Representatives this evening by a vote of 244 to 188.  

“With today’s vote Congress took a step towards rebooting our country on a clean energy foundation¬,” said Keith Hay, energy advocate of Environment Colorado.   “Repowering America will mean more secure energy in the long term, less global warming pollution and more green collar jobs right here at home.”

The “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” includes at least $37.9 billion for energy efficiency, $27.8 billion for renewable energy and $14.6 billion for public transit and clean transportation, for a total of $80 billion in clean energy funding.  Environment Colorado applauded members of the Colorado congressional delegation supporting today’s bill, including Representatives Diana DeGette, Betsy Markey, Jared Polis, and John Salazar with special thanks to Representative Ed Perlmutter for championing transit solutions and the Nadler amendment.

“Rep. Perlmutter was a champion for clean and green transit today,” said Hay. “Rep. Perlmutter’s leadership helped increase transit funding by $3 billion dollars, which will mean millions in transit dollars for Colorado.”

Colorado’s cars and trucks are the second leading cause of global warming pollution. Nationally transportation accounts for one third of global warming pollution and 60 percent of oil consumption. Funding for public transit, which creates one third less pollution than comparable passenger car travel, yields 19 percent more jobs per dollar than building new highways.  With the Nadler amendment, the bill includes $13 billion for transit capital funds, more efficient buses, and pressing transit improvements that would save more than 12 million barrels of oil per year and generate at least 521,000 jobs.  

The bill dramatically expands federal funding for state- and city-directed weatherization programs.  According to Environment Colorado’s analysis of the bill’s provisions on energy efficiency, the $6.2 billion investment in the Weatherization Assistance Program will reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 12 million tons, create 465,000 new jobs over two years and meet President Obama’s goal of weatherizing two million homes.

In addition to extending clean energy tax credits for three years, the bill makes an adjustment to the renewable energy production tax credits that Environment Colorado estimates will create or sustain 254,000 quality jobs such as in engineering, installation, construction and maintenance.  The bill allows new or struggling renewable energy companies with no profit or tax liability to apply to the Department of Energy for grants in place of the tax credits they can not use. 

 “By extending the clean energy tax credits and making them recession proof, Congress is helping keep an industry that prevented 79 million tons of global warming pollution in 2007 on track,” said Hay.

“Through the clean energy and green infrastructure investments in this economic recovery package, we can make a down payment on solving global warming while delivering the economic boost we need,” said Hay. “We applaud Congress for passing a green recovery package and urge the Senate to keep it clean for a greener, safer, stronger America.”