THE BLOG

Right Now, $100 Billion Doesn't Sound Like Much for a Million Green Jobs and Lots of Clean Energy

04/15/2009 11:15 am 11:15:58 | Updated May 25, 2011

It's hard to focus on anything else but elections and the state of the economy, yet sadly the media mainstream and the candidates seem to speak in the same old cliches. Bailing out the bankers for billions and giving the bill over to the taxpayers. Remember that $1,200 economic stimulus tax refund? Well economists estimate the $700 billion bailout would cost each one of us $2,300 - nearly twice the amount of that check.

There must be a better way. Because of all the bad, bad economic news, sometimes it's easy to overlook or let quickly fly by the good news about the American picture.

For one thing, the United States just recently surpassed Germany and earlier Spain as the country with the most wind power production (24,300 MW of capacity by the end of this year). That's a significant achievement, and it only happened because of the renewable energy tax credits, credits that this year (and every few years) are in danger of not being extended, as well as because of the renewable portfolio standards some states have passed.

2008-09-23-Picture1.png Turbine photo by menesis @ flickr

Imagine what the country could do if the tax credits were secured for a decade - and all states had renewable goals! Offshore wind, a big force in Europe, hasn't even hit U.S. shores quite yet.

John Podesta is one guy who is clearly imagining the possibilities. Podesta is leading Obama's transition team, and he is also president of the Center for American Progress (CAP). CAP helped fund the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute's "Green Recovery" report recently issued.

That probably makes the report "liberal" but since the former economic stimulus package which cost $168 billion was "conservative" and this plan costs only $100 billion, let's just call it a cheaper future option. PERI's Green Recovery consists of about $50 billion in tax credits, $4 billion in federal loan guarantees, and $46 billion in direct spending.

PERI's study suggests initiatives for each state in the areas of energy efficiency retrofits to buildings, solar and wind investments, mass transit and freight rail improvements, smart grid and finally, 'advanced' biofuels investments.

If the PERI plan were implemented its authors believe that each state could create tens of thousands of new 'green collar' jobs or about 2 million jobs nationwide over the course of the about the next two years. CAP is supposed to give a more in-depth report in November on how the different initiatives would be implemented. In the meantime, compared to $700 billion for banks' bad decision-making, it seems like a real bargain.