Repowering America with a Green Economic Recovery Plan

Released by: Environment America

Executive Summary

“We have the opportunity now to create jobs all across this country in all 50 states to repower America, to redesign how we use energy and think about how we are increasing efficiency to make our economy stronger, make us more safe, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make us competitive for decades to come - even as we save the planet."

 - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, 12-8-2008

The challenge is the economy; the opportunity is clean energy. Environment America recommends that President-elect Obama and the new Congress enact a green economic recovery plan that makes critical investments in clean energy and green infrastructure to help rebuild the American economy and protect our environment.

By funding clean energy projects, we can put Americans to work making public buildings more efficient and putting solar panels on their roofs, weatherizing 1 million U.S. homes, training more than 100,000 new workers to install clean energy systems, and increasing public transportation capacity by 10 percent a year. This green recovery plan will deliver the economic boost we need.

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. Environment America recommends $142 billion in investments for clean renewable energy, energy efficiency, and public transit, which would create millions of jobs.

Repowering America with Clean, Homegrown Energy

Electricity generation contributes more than a third of U.S. global warming pollution. We have the potential to power the entire country many times over with clean sources such as wind and solar. A green recovery program should expand incentives for renewable energy, shift our own government towards renewable energy, fund advanced research and development of new renewable energy technologies, and pass a renewable electricity standard.

Environment America recommends at least a $62.3 billion investment in renewable energy and green job training. Our recommended investments will create or sustain more than 1.9 million jobs, reduce global warming emissions by at least 423.6 million tons a year by 2020, equivalent to taking over 77.5 million cars off the road, and put us on the path to repower America with 100 percent clean electricity.

Repowering and Refueling America through Energy Efficiency

Almost half of the energy we use in America, almost 10 percent of the world’s energy use, is used in America’s buildings. We have the tools and know-how to make these buildings much more efficient. For example, the federal weatherization program weatherizes homes of low-income families and reduces energy consumption for space heating by an average of approximately 25 percent per home. The program delivers at least $1.50 in economic benefits for every dollar invested. Currently the program only reaches slightly more than 100,000 homes per year – a fraction of the homes which qualify.

Environment America recommends at least a $21 billion investment in energy efficiency. According to analysis by the Earth Policy Institute investing $1 billion in retrofitting buildings would create 26 times more jobs than the same investment in nuclear power and 30 times more jobs than the same investment in coal power. Just $6 billion in residential and commercial building retrofit efficiency investments will, over the next two years, reduce energy consumption and create more than 60,000 new jobs.

Refueling America through Investment in Transportation 

Transportation is responsible for one-third of global warming pollution and more than 60 percent of domestic oil consumption. Bolstering public transportation should be a primary focus for stimulus investments to reduce global warming pollution and our nation’s dependence on oil. Transit ridership has grown consistently over the past decade and has grown markedly in the recent year, despite falling fuel prices. Yet in 2008, 85 percent of transit systems were experiencing capacity problems and 65 percent lacked the revenue to increase service.

Environment America recommends at least a $58.8 billion in investments in transit, other transportation alternatives, environmental mitigation, road and bridge maintenance, and vehicle and fuel technologies. Our recommended investments would immediately reduce annual oil consumption by more than 300 million gallons (7.4 million barrels), reduce yearly global warming pollution emissions by nearly 2 million tons, and prevent the contamination of 16 million cubic meters of polluted water each year. These transportation investments will, over the next two years create 1.5 million new jobs and preserve 500,000 current jobs.

Rebuilding America with a Green Recovery Program

These proposals will help clean up our air and water, reduce global warming pollution, and create much-needed jobs. By making smart investments now, we can set a course to repower America with 100 percent clean electricity, refuel America by cutting our oil dependence in half, and rebuild America with 5 million new jobs at the same time, we can do our part to stop global warming.