The U.S. House of Representatives seized an opportunity to repower America and rebuild the economy by making bold investments in clean energy and energy efficiency through the economic recovery bill passed 244 to 188 this evening, according to Environment Texas
“With this economic recovery package, Congress took the first step down the road to a new clean energy economy for America,” said Environment Texas Director, Luke Metzger. “This bill will deliver more secure energy in the long term; less global warming pollution; fewer asthma attacks from air pollution; more clean lakes and rivers for drinking water, swimming and fishing, and more good jobs right here at home.”
The “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” includes at least $37.9 billion for energy efficiency, $27.8 billion for renewable energy and $14.6 billion for public transit and clean transportation, for a total of $80 billion in clean energy funding. Environment Texas applauded members of Congress who voted for the package and for capturing an enormous opportunity to prevent pollution, save oil, and create more jobs by adopting an amendment by Representative Nadler (D-NY) to increase public transit funding by $3 billion.
Because our large population and immense renewable energy potential, Texas is poised to largely benefit from the stimulus plan. Some examples Include: light rail expansions and Investments on climate-change research at NASA in Houston, weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades of low income housing and DART light rail expansions in Dallas, MetroRail red line expansion in Austin, and renewable energy projects (such as wind farms) and expanded transmission lines in West Texas.
America’s transportation sector is responsible for one third of the nation’s global warming pollution and 60 percent of oil consumption. Funding for public transit, which creates one third less pollution than comparable passenger car travel, yields 19 percent more jobs per dollar than building new highways. With the Nadler amendment, the bill includes $13 billion for transit capital funds, more efficient buses, and pressing transit improvements that would save more than 12 million barrels of oil per year and generate at least 521,000 jobs.
The bill dramatically expands federal funding for state- and city-directed weatherization programs. According to Environment Texas' analysis of the bill’s provisions on energy efficiency, the $6.2 billion investment in the Weatherization Assistance Program will reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 12 million tons, create 465,000 new jobs over two years and meet President Obama’s goal of weatherizing two million homes.
In addition to extending clean energy tax credits for three years, the bill makes an adjustment to the renewable energy production tax credits that Environment Texas estimates will create or sustain 254,000 quality jobs such as in engineering, installation, construction and maintenance. The bill allows new or struggling renewable energy companies with no profit or tax liability to apply to the Department of Energy for grants in place of the tax credits they can not use. “By extending the clean energy tax credits and making them recession proof, Congress is helping keep an industry that prevented 79 million tons of global warming pollution in 2007 on track,” explained Metzger.
“Through the clean energy and green infrastructure investments in this economic recovery package, we can make a down payment on solving global warming while delivering the economic boost we need,” concluded Metzger. “We applaud Congress for passing a green recovery package and urge the Senate to keep it clean for a greener, safer, stronger America.”
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Environment Texas is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy group working for clean air, clean water, and open space.