Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope hailed the passing of the Stimulus Bill as the "biggest victory" by an American President in his first month in office. I'm sure his comment there is debatable, but one thing that is certain of President Obama's first month is that White House policy on clean energy and the environment is a complete 180 from the previous administration. If the Obama EPA, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Interior can continue to make the kinds of changes they have made this first month over the next 11 months, this will indeed be the green-energy revolution, and the change, that we need and have been waiting for.
A recent Sierra Club email touted The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which contains approximately $80 billion in funding for promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy, and higher-mileage cars. This includes:
- $25 billion for energy efficiency
- $20 billion for renewable energy incentives
- $11 billion in grants and $6 billion in loans to modernize the electric grid and increase its capacity to deliver power generated by renewable sources, and
- $17.7 billion for mass transit, Amtrak, and high-speed rail.
The signing a day earlier of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is, as far as I can recall, by far the biggest victory mustered by an American President in his first month in office. Environmentally, the bill is the most important piece of legislative support for clean energy ever adopted. Its provisions include $80 billion for a wide variety of environmental programs. The President, before he signed it in Denver, visited a solar-energy manufacturing facility. It was a nice bookend to the visit he made to a Ohio wind-turbine factory last month, when he launched his campaign to get Congress to pass the bill.
In addition to directly funded investments, the bill also contains important, if little commented on, incentives to industry, states, and local government to go even further. Some of the second-year funding for energy efficiency, for example, is contingent on states following California's lead in giving their public utilities as much incentive to save energy as to increase electricity generation.