The High Road

Over the weekend, Obama’s people received a proposal from a coaliton of our nation’s environmental and conservation groups, including many of the oranizations that belong to the Healing Our Waters Coalition, that outlines quick ways to create sustainable jobs in clean energy and green infrastructure. This morning (Dec. 11), the same groups delivered their economic recovery plan to the US Congress. The proposal that would create up to 3.6 million jobs that could put people to work within six to nine months of enactment while reducing pollution and restoring the Great Lakes. At the center of this strategy is an argument that economic recovery hinges on abandoning 19th century technology and investing instead in green methods that save money and create more jobs.

“Green jobs deliver more bang for the buck than dirty jobs,” said Anna Aurilio of Environment America. “The reason we are insisting on keeping it clean is not just because it is good for the environment, but actually, dollar for dollar you get more jobs.” Barack Obama recently promised to create 2.5 million jobs. He also proposed spending $5 billion over five years on Great Lakes restoration efforts with the intention of securing the lakes for future generations, but that was before the financial calamity and now, by spending more in the region he can put people to work on that very restoration that will keep our region competitive for years to come.

The bottom line is that people are out of work, manufacturing jobs are on the way out, at the same time years of underinvestment in our cities, our infrastructure and our communities is starting to cost us dearly. When you add the stress of global warming to this mix it quickly becomes a perfect storm. There is an opportunity at this moment in time to help everyone, our citizens, our cities, our lakes and combat global warming too. Leading economists from every direction are coming together and arguing that an economic stimulus package will need to spend about $600 billion. Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who recently testified before the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a green stimulus told E&E News, “if we don’t make those investments wisely, if we aren’t strategic about where the economy needs to go long term, even as we’re trying to stimulate short term activity, that we’ll waste the opportunity or worse, make investments that are counterproductive. So the energy component of the stimulus is a very important tool…”

Hendricks also said in the OnPoint interview that he felt the leadership of the Congress and the new Administration are both interested in making clean energy a centerpiece of a series economic package that can move forward quickly. “I have every reason to believe that we’re going to see a big package with a very clear component focused on clean energy and advancing renewable technology and efficiency as a centerpiece of American competititeness.” Add to that, our belief that Obama is dedicated to improving and restoring the Great Lakes and our region’s economy and we have real hope for the future.

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