Last week, we brought you news of Obama’s goal of creating 2.5 million jobs through green investments. Today, a few hazy details from the president elect’s plan were revealed.
From today’s New York Times:
"The details and cost of the so-called green-jobs program are still unclear, but a senior Obama aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a work in progress, said it would probably include the weatherizing of hundreds of thousands of homes, the installation of “smart meters” to monitor and reduce home energy use, and billions of dollars in grants to state and local governments for mass transit and infrastructure projects."
Obama’s green stimulus package will also likely include tax breaks for clean tech projects like solar panels, wind farms, biofuels, and carbon capture and sequestration. The green elements of the plan will be part of a broader economic stimulus plan, expected to cost somewhere in the realm of $400 billion to $500 billion. Green investments will total about $15 billion per year, perhaps more.
Other specifics haven’t been released yet, but the eco-minded plan hopes to boost the economy while also improving the environment, which have some referring to Obama’s initiatives as a kind of “Green New Deal” modeled after FDR’s public works programs under the New Deal. The package is also intended to create or save about 2.5 million American jobs over the next two years.
Obama’s critics are skeptical that renewables can be applied on such a large scale, and balk at the plan’s huge pricetag, suggesting that economic recovery should take precedence over environmental concerns. But other folks believe that investing in green job creation is the only way to really save the environment and spur economic growth—in other words, a green jobs program would cure two of America’s ills with a single shot.
Van Jones, president of non-profit Green for All and author of the book The Green Collar Economy, falls into the latter category. The goal should be to “retrofit and repower America,” he says. “Each wind turbine needs 8,000 machined parts. You could put all of Detroit back to work making them. We need to get back to building things here in the US, not borrowing them from overseas. You can’t build a national economy on credit cards. But you can on green power.”
Additional reporting by Vince Beiser. This story originally appeared in "Plenty" in December 2008.