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Clean Breeze for the Economy

February 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Photo courtesy of the Department of Energy

Photo courtesy of the Department of Energy


Economy and Green Investment: In a testament to the power of green technology to stimulate economic growth, “Rebuilding Green: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Green Economy” presents case studies of green investments’ effect on job creation.   According to the February report by the Economic Policy Institute and the BlueGreen Alliance, nearly one million jobs was created or saved by the $93 billion of the Recovery Act’s green investments committed through the end of 2010.  The findings show that ARRA boosted the U.S. GDP by $146 billion and provided jobs for some of the country’s most vulnerable workers.

Toxin Control and Job Creation: The EPA’s proposed rules for the electric power sector will create an estimated 1.46 million jobs across the U.S. in the next five years. The February study by Ceres and Political Economy Research Institute examines the effects of the Clean Air Transport Rule that focuses on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, as wells as the pioneering Utility MACT rule that will limit hazardous air pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and hydrochloric acid.  “New Jobs – Cleaner Air: Employment Effects under Planned Changes to EPA’s Air Pollution Rules” details the jobs to be provided by investments in pollution controls, plant construction, and the retirement of less efficient coal plans.  Among the states with largest projected gains are VA, TN, IL, NC, and IN.

Renewable Energy: A February report by the World Wildlife Fund concluded that 95% of global energy demand can be met with renewable sources using developed or evolving technologies.  “The Energy Report: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050” indicates the steps to realize its vision, where bio-energy is used as a last resort.  The effort would cost $3.5 trillion euros by 2035 in order to modernize buildings and electricity grids, as well as expand wind farms and solar parks.  Despite the growth of population, industrial output, freight, and transportation, energy savings can decrease demand by 15% from the 2005 level.

International Climate Cooperation: NRDC’s February report “The Greening of US-India Relations: A Review of Cooperation between the United States and India on Climate Change and Energy” puts a spotlights on one of the positive signs of the U.S. commitment to reducing climate change.  The joint U.S. and India Green Partnership aims to address climate change and promote clean energy.  The report discusses the progress made in the brief amount of time since the cooperation was announced by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009.


Clean Air Act and Campaign Contributions: As members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee consider the “Energy Tax Prevention Act” to weaken the Clean Air Act, a February study from the Public Campaign Action Fund details campaign contributions from oil & gas, coal, and electric utilities industries during the members’ time in Congress.  According to “Gutting Clean Air? A Look at Big Oil and Coal Interests Influence at the House Energy and Commerce Committee”, Republicans on the Energy and Power Subcommittee received, on average, almost $100,000 more in campaign cash from the oil and gas industry than their Democratic counterparts.

Climate Change Rhetoric: Against the backdrop of Congressional assault on the EPA’s efforts to limit GHG regulations, a February report co-authored by the U.K environmental think tank E3G and the director of the science and impacts program at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change encourages a centrist approach to tamper the risks of inaction that stem from political gridlock.  “Degrees of Risk: Defining a Risk Management Framework for Climate Security” attempts to overstep the political rancor with a focus on hedging against the risks of more flooding in Pakistan or decrease in crop yields.

Climate Change Adaptation: If income or population in southwestern United States continues to increase, its current dependence on groundwater will require serious steps to avoid severe water shortages.  According to the report “The Last Drop: Climate Change and the Southwest Water Crisis” by the Stockholm Environment Institute, increasing climate change will further aggravate the problem.  The price tag?  The region will lose $2.3 to 4 trillion in productivity by 2100. With climate change factored in, the solution will cost another $1 trillion. The report suggests that either farmers or urban residents could cut back on utilization, but emphasizes the cost-effectiveness of reducing the agriculture’s share – especially for light-profit, water-intensive crops.

Re-Run – Economy and the Clean Air Act: An “oldy” but goody!  According to the October report by the Small Business Majority and Main Street Alliance, the Clean Air Act has stimulated jobs and technological innovation.   “The Clean Air Act’s Economic Benefits: Past, Present, and Future” found that regulations purred innovations like catalytic converters and enabled the U.S. to become a world leader in environmental control technologies, with exports growth of 130% between 1993 and 2003 (and value of $30 billion in 2004).  The Act’s application created 1.3 million jobs between1977 and 1991.


Voters and the EPA: An American Lung Association poll conducted by a Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and GOP pollster Ayres McHenry reveals that a bipartisan cross-section of the public wants the EPA to protect public health from pollution and oppose attempts to derail its efforts.  Findings show that 69% support creating stricter limits on air pollution – including 88% of Democrats and 68% of Independents.  Significantly, 60% of voters say Congress should not prevent the EPA from updating carbon pollution standards; 69% believe that scientists should set pollution standards – not Congress.

Upton and the Clean Air Act: According to Public Policy Polling, 62% of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s constituents oppose the bill he is sponsoring to dismantle the EPA’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Sixty seven percent of Upton’s constituents (including 60% of Republicans) agreed that Congress should let the EPA do its job.  Furthermore, 61% say “EPA needs to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water”; 57% favor “the EPA setting new standards with stricter limits on air pollution.” The poll resulted in similar findings for the home districts of eight other key committee members.

U.S. Budget and Pollution Control: Cutting government spending may be a popular idea in general, but a February Harris poll shows that majority of the public oppose defunding pollution control by 54% to 37%.  Since the 1980s, the share of the public that favors less spending on pollution control actually decreased by 12%.

Michigan Voters and EPA: According to a late January poll by the national polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 64% of 500 registered Michigan voters favor allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, with 27 percent opposed.  The results showed high support across the political spectrum – 78% of Democrats supported the EPA’s authority, 57% of Republicans, and 66% of independents.

Alternative Energy: According to a February Gallup poll, out of eight actions Congress could take this year, Americans most favor an energy bill that provides incentives for using alternative energy (83%) – versus 65% support for more drilling and exploration for oil and gas.  Second and third cam in overhauling the federal tax code (76%) and accelerating withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan (72%).


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