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With the recent passage of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, I felt it necessary to highlight some of the finer points within the nearly 100 billion dollars allocated to green initiatives. I’ve read literally 10 different versions explaining how much is going where, so take this post as a generalization. The point is, this is monumental stuff. It may seem trite after a string of 800 billion dollar bailouts, but this is different. These funds aren’t being allocated back to Bank of America and Citi to shore up capital and encourage lending. This is Barack Obama play money. This is the United States of America saying, “Okay kid, here’s almost a trillion clams, go ahead and fix it. I tried to skim the 778 page document to locate the more important green proposals, but I’m same guy that has trouble finishing those 8 page essay’s in the New Yorker, so don’t be surprised if I missed some stuff. Treehugger and NY Times Green Inc helped the synthesis greatly. Anyways, here it goes.
Let’s start with the bulk of the dinero, 39 billion to the Department of Energy for the development of clean energy and jobs. When I first saw this I was hesitant. Can the DOE be trusted to allocate this massive amount of cash? This 39 bil is the guts of the green green in the ARRA so we can’t afford to blow it. (Hopefully none of the fine folks from the The Minerals Management Service made into the new administration.) But this time we have new blood. Steven Chu, the new Secretary of Energy is beyond a genius. Chu is one of the pioneering energy and physicist minds of the last quarter century. (I love the new government.) But still, just to be on the safe side, the Senate included some provisions as to where all that dough will go.
About 6 billion will be available in grants for states that convince Chu they are not only in desperate need of energy restructuring, but capable of delegating the resources properly in an overall effort to; create building energy codes for residential and commercial projects that will meet specified and stringent energy efficiency standards. Expect Schwarzenegger and Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington to be all over this.
Another 2 billion will be available in grants for companies that manufacture advanced battery technology. Yes! This is really cool. 2 billion bills goes a long way for small smart battery start-ups. The USA just became a green tech angel investor. Neat.
About 5 billion for zero emission power plants, which technically could include nuclear.
330 mil goes to “Science” and I have no fucking idea what that means but it’s amazing how 330 million is so easily lost when your talking about hundreds of BILLIONS! I sure hope “science” does something cool with the cheddar because the government could have bought everyone in America a Jr. Bacon Double Chee or a Frosty.
Outside of the DOE paper about 11 billion goes to smart-grid related activities, including work to modernize electrical grids, perform energy storage research and train new workers. Believe it or not, Google was paramount in lobbying for this significant amount of bread. Google is developing smart grid intelligence that will be made available to the consumer through readouts on their home energy consumption. Why? Google is realizing their business isn’t helping people answer life’s pressing questions like why women can’t put on mascara with their mouths closed, it’s allocating and storing information. So it’s prudent for Google to store and allocate the countries energy consumption information.
Onwards and upwards; 2.5 billion to convert federal buildings into state of the art beacons of energy efficiency.
$6.5 billion of increased borrowing authority to the Bonneville and Western Area Power Administrations for expanding and upgrading electric transmission lines.
3.4 billion towards clean coal projects, a provision that did not go over well with the vast majority of the environmental community. Perhaps I’ll write a post about why this is, but basically clean coal is not clean. Why is it in there? Sadly enough probably because Obama is from Illinois and poverty stricken Southern Illinois has always been and would be, the hub for coal mining.
As far as the green budget goes, I think you get the idea. There’s obviously more, but I could literally go on for pages.
So all said and done how did the earth do in terms of ARRA? Pretty damn good. We are in the middle of a significant economic downturn and green projects gobbled up almost an 8th of the cabbage. That’s decent. 5 years ago it never would have happened. 10 years ago Clinton would have laughed at us. The important question, however, is not how far we have come as an issue, but how far that amount of coin will get us. President Obama will need to do what all great CEO’s do, allocate resources and funds to maximize returns. The planet, and his presidency will depend on it.
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