A Strategy for Green Recovery

Everybody is talking about a green recovery plan. But what are the details? Who exactly gets how much to do what? I’m glad you asked.

The Center for American progress has published the details of a plan for “Stimulating the Economy Today by Rebuilding for Future Prosperity.” This proposed $47.2 billion green recovery package includes near-term spending on the following programs:

Stimulus investments:

  • Transit agencies and ready-to-go transportation projects: Provide $2 billion in assistance to transit agencies to reduce transit fares and expand services, and begin construction on ready-to-go rail and other projects.
  • Refundable residential energy efficiency tax credits: Increase funding for refundable residential energy efficiency tax credits to $5 billion and raise the maximum credit for household efficiency upgrades to $2,000.
  • Clean renewable energy bonds: Increase CREB funding for consumer-owned utilities to $5 billion to jump-start renewable energy projects.
  • “Cash for Clunkers” rebates for older cars: Initiate a $2.5 billion annual program to purchase and scrap older, more polluting cars, in exchange for an owner agreement to acquire a more efficient vehicle or use alternative transportation.
  • The Weatherization Assistance Program: Fully fund the Weatherization Assistance Program at $900 million, the amount Congress is authorized to spend on the program in FY 2009, and build toward a goal of weatherizing 1 million homes.

Recovery investments:

  • Energy efficiency and conservation block grants: Increase appropriation to $6 billion to fund states, cities, and counties in pursuing clean energy projects.
  • Solar roofs on federal buildings: Authorize $3.5 billion to install 2,000 megawatts of solar power on federal rooftops, and amend federal electricity contracting to allow for 30-year power purchasing agreements.
  • New Starts Transit project investments: Fully fund the New Starts Transit budget at the $6.6 billion authorized in Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users.
  • Green school construction and renovation: Support state and local school modernization, renovation, and repair at $7.25 billion.
  • Green affordable housing HOME block grants: Supplement block grant funding through the HOME program with $1 billion for energy-related projects.
  • HOPE VI program for green community revitalization: Appropriate $800 million for greening HOPE VI projects to meet Energy Star and green communities standards.
  • Smart grid federal matching funds: Fund the Smart Grid Title of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to support $1.3 billion for infrastructure investment and demonstration projects.
  • Workforce investment in the Green Jobs Act: Increase appropriation for the Green Jobs Act, authorized in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act to $250 million to provide job training and workforce investment in energy efficiency and renewable-energy installations.
  • Green jobs restoring the land: Expand existing programs by $800 million to restore parkland, forests, wetlands, wildlife refuges, and rural ecosystems.
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership: Expand the capacity of domestic manufacturing modernization efforts by increasing MEP funding to $200 million.
  • Advanced coal technology to capture carbon: Invest $1.1 billion to deploy demonstration carbon capture-and-storage technology at a coal-fired power plant.
  • Additional green infrastructure for clean water: Invest in broader community benefits and green jobs with $3 billion in green storm water infrastructure.

Details on each and every one of those proposals can be found here.

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20 Responses to A Strategy for Green Recovery

  1. David B. Benson says:

    I think enhanced mineral weathering is safer, ready-to-go, and about the same price as CCS. $1.1 billion ought to be able to remove about 29 million tonnes of carbon dioxide which is about the same as operating the CCS, when finished).

  2. jtberman says:

    It is way past time for these solutions. How will do they get into the hands/minds of the decision makers?

  3. rpauli says:

    Progressive tax on energy consumption. The more you use, the more you pay.

    I want to be pleased to see that Hummer sucking gas and paying taxes. Freedom to consume ! – just tax the extreme forms of it.

  4. Mark Shapiro says:

    Let’s see, has anybody in the Obama campaign/administration ever even heard of the Center for American Progress, let alone this list?

    Oh yes – John Podesta, the head of Center for American progress, is also head of Obama’s transition team!

    Good start toward some wedges.

  5. Joe says:

    Yes, a number of CAP people either left to join the campaign or are on leave working on the transition. I remain a kibbitzer!

  6. David B. Benson says:

    “World Needs a Backup Plan”

    Too bad enhanced mineral weathering isn’t on the list. :-(

  7. Hal says:

    More …. in decreasing order of potential political appeal but not necessarily importance or efficacy:
    1. Revise CAFE standards to double fleet average fuel efficiency – say in 6 years.
    2. Federal government passenger vehicle purchases starting in fiscal 2010 all at 40 mpg
    3. Stimulate scaling up of distributed energy in the solar PV industry with a Federal tax credit for new [rooftop] residential Solar PV of $1.00 per watt for the first 3500 watts and $0.75/watt for each additional watt up to a maximum of 7,500 watts per residential unit (house, apartment, condo). A typical 2500 watt system (inverter sized for actual output) costs around $20K to $24K installed here in California. The tax credit on that would be $2500. Add a Federal credit for new rooftop commercial/industrial solar. Require utilities to buy excess power production as is the case here and in many other states.
    4. Require time-of-use metering at all electric consumers with pricing adjusted to reflect peak loads and impact on GHG emissions for each utility and interconnected grid region. Start by using currently available data from EPA’s eGRID and investing immediately in upgrading the GHG emissions data reporting accuracy (may require legislation or Executive Order) for all commercial power producers. Note: Almost all US electricity is sold under interstate commerce and, therefore, susceptible to federal regulation of this sort. These two measures will enable and motivate electricity consumers to make more rationale decisions regarding the amount and timing of their energy use that ties the cost to the GHG emissions.

  8. Jim Bullis says:

    David B. Benson, what the heck is enhanced mineral weathering?

  9. Jim Bullis says:

    If we could even copy the Prius correctly we could make a lot of progress.

    The plug in crowd continues to ignore the 38% efficient engine of the production Prius (Argonne data available if anyone cares.) Then they fail to notice that the Prius method where there is a direct mechanical link from the engine to the wheels which avoids the generator loss, battery loss, and motor loss. The mechanical link has some loss though even the electric motor has to be linked to the wheels.

    Even worse, sticking batteries in a Prius as the 100+mpg crowd does actually degrades the Prius engine to 32%. ( Argonne data exists on this point also.)

    The biggest disaster of all is that the plug-in crowd would have us believe that the source fuel for electricity can be ignored in their mpg quotes. How embarrassing is this?

    Of course there is the dream that solar or wind is going to get done in massive quantities. And then we are subjected to the economic trick where the evaluation of cost feasibility is based on subsidized costs, and usually the cost of money is ignored.

    Think about how our electric bills will look when we are all getting subsidies from ourselves. And then the federal budget will stagger under the load, even more than it is staggering now.

  10. Scatter says:

    “Cash for clunkers” – this is being considered in Europe too but I’m yet to see rigorous life cycle assessments looking at where the cut off point might be. Can anyone help?

  11. David B. Benson says:

    Jim Bullis — Encouraging natural mineral weathering which removes CO2 from the air.

    Olivine weathering:

    Peridotite weathering:
    “Rocks Could Be Harnessed To Sponge Vast Amounts Of Carbon Dioxide From Air”:

    My cost estimates for this range from $38 per tonne of CO2 downwards to a half or quater of that figure.

  12. David B. Benson says:


    [Note to self: Proofread twice before posting.]

  13. DrDan2000 says:

    What a piddlingly small project proposal this is. Every home should be insulated and weatherized before next winter. Nobody has the cash so issue a 2% credit card for home insulation materials. Price control polyiso foam spray and panels so everyone can seal their walls and their roof. Just put it on the outside and cover it.

    Rebates and tax credits don’t work. Go to a federal Green Credit Card.

    Issue a second 2% credit card for solar hot air collector systems – after the homes are insulated. Turn the furnace off.

    The next 2% credit card is for residential and transportation photovoltaic power. Put some real money into the smart grid so we don’t all need a room full of toxic batteries. Charge your electric car from your solar panels.

    The final 2% credit card is for a small fully-electric car. Get a simple, small commuter car on the road by the end of 2009. Forget about hybrids. $25 billion for more of the same? What a joke. I’d rather ride an electric bicycle on a bicycle road.

  14. Buffalo Girl says:

    Re: Cash for Clunkers

    We’ve been debating about when to replace our only car – an 18 year old Honda. We commute via mass transit and so use it for errands and visiting family less than an hour away. It still gets good mileage and is well-maintained, and we fill the tank about once a month. But no doubt it burns more oil and whatever, just because seals and things in general age.

    Our conclusion is that for us the environmental hit from materials extraction, transportation and manufacture for a new vehicle significantly outweighs the benefit of a cleaner vehicle.

    So, with luck we will wait for a true plug-in electric car (or maybe local car-sharing). And hope that we will build the kind of national electric grid to efficiently distribute solar and wind-generated electricity for it and – ultimately – the only real long-range solution for a growing global industrial civilization, solar power collected in orbit (built from lunar and asteroidal resources).

  15. Jim Bullis says:

    David B. Benson,

    Where are the rocks? If they are only near the surface in Oman, it does not seem very practical to do this.

  16. Nink says:

    These are all great suggestions and would have a dramatic impact on the environment. The only concern is that I am not sure they would receive either the attention or funding required unless there was a documented “financial” business case associated with each one. As a strong supporter of green initiatives we need to remember where the decision makers are focusing and that is on what will result in a financial return on investment and not just an environmental return.

    Perhaps it would be wise if could choose the most obvious cost saving item on the list and build a business case from there. The item suggesting solar roofs on federal buildings maybe an interesting item. If the government was prepared to make a 3.5 Billion dollar investment in this technology I am sure we could show a cost saving over a 10 year time frame in addition to the company(s) who were awarded the contract would be able to enhance the technology and reduce the cost of manufacture. This would lower the time frame to achieve a cost return on investment for private organizations to invest and open the technology to others.

  17. bill o says:

    why not put solar panels on cars so while parked can be trickle charging instead of heating up?

  18. Jim Bullis says:

    Look at the Solar Challenge cars to see why not.

  19. endependence says:

    These are good suggestions.

    The focus on energy independence should not be squandered, and the new President can take ownership of the issue by reframing the argument as a call for “endependence” .

    Endependence is energy independence that ends dependence on polluting fuels.

    How about a federal rule for solar feed in tarrifs at market rates?

    Sign the Declaration of Endependence at .

    Show us how you save energy. We will copy your great ideas.

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