In just a few days President-elect Obama will be President Obama. The economy remains the main agenda item, but this does not mean that environmental initiatives are being left behind. With just a few days left before he takes office Obama took time on Friday to visit the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company in Ohio that makes parts for wind turbines and give a speech there. The choice of this plant was no accident of course. In Obama’s speech there he pushed his economic stimulus package, talking about the 3-4 million jobs he hopes to save or create, many of which are tied to the production of renewable energy. By including large new investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Obama is working to help both the economy and the environment at the same time.
The $850 billion economic stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, includes support for renewable energy, and investment in green buildings. The details of the plan being unveiled include $20 billion in incentives for a variety of forms of renewable energy, and $54 billion to improve the grid and to invest in energy efficiency in buildings, the electrical grid, and transportation. In addition to solar and wind, the plan includes incentives for a broad range of other forms of renewable energy such as waste to energy, methane from landfills, and geothermal energy.
“That’s why, as part of our Recovery and Reinvestment plan, we’re committing to double the production of renewable energy in the next three years, and to modernize more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes.
In the process, we’ll put nearly half a million people to work building wind turbines and solar panels; constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings; and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to new jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.”
Wow. I don’t know about you, but that sounds great to me, not just a step in the right direction, but a pretty big leap.
It’s about time. We have some leaping to do.
We’ve had a great deal of grass roots action on the green front, with people, local and state governments taking the lead in the absence of environmental leadership at the US Government level. This might be changing. While the grass roots efforts are a wonderful start, an effective response to the really large problems we face requires a coordinated effort at the highest level, with strong leadership. Many businesses these days are hiring Chief Sustainability Officers, the Chief Green. Obama might just be our next Chief Green for the US, providing national leadership on both economic and environmental recovery.
During the presidential campaign (remember the campaign?), Thomas Friedman remarked that he was less concerned if we have the first black president, or the first woman president, than if we have the first green president. The show’s not over yet, but the previews look good. Let’s keep the green grass roots growing, and do what we can to support this kind of bold national action that moves us forward toward a brighter future.