Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Hot off the press

Posted by Rich Sweeney on January 2, 2009

From the inbox:

January 7, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
House Minority Leader John Boehner
Dear …
We, the undersigned sustainable energy and environmental organizations, businesses, and individual advocates, are writing to urge that you support provisions in the proposed stimulus bill that will promote sustainable energy technologies and create “green jobs.”
More specifically, funding should be targeted at those energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that can be brought on line quickly, will maximize job creation, will curb greenhouse gases and energy imports, and have the least adverse social and environmental impacts.
Nuclear power and fossil fuel technologies should not be included among those supported by the stimulus bill. These technologies cannot be brought on line quickly, entail unacceptable environmental hazards, and produce far fewer jobs per dollar invested.
Rather, emphasis should be given to “shovel-ready” projects that can be deployed in the very near term (i.e., preferably within 6-24 months) either to reduce wasteful energy use or to produce renewable energy as well as create jobs. Longer-term investments in sustainable energy research and development merit federal support but should be addressed in the regular annual appropriations bills rather than in this stimulus legislation.
The most attractive investments in terms of cost-effectiveness, jobs creation, carbon-reduction, and time-frame may well be those designed to reduce energy use in residential, commercial, public and other buildings. Accordingly, a high priority should be funding aimed at the permanent weatherization of older buildings and the replacement energy-inefficient lighting, appliances, and HVAC systems. Likewise, investments in advanced meter and demand-response programs are warranted.
In the transportation sector, emphasis should be given to lower-carbon options such as expansion of bike trails and pedestrian walkways, acquisition of more energy-efficient government vehicles including municipal buses, construction or expansion of light-rail and other mass transit systems, and repair of existing roads, tunnels, and bridges. However, funding the construction of new roads would tend – in many, if not most, instances – to encourage increased fuel use and oil imports and result in greater greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, such proposals should be closely scrutinized and probably given very low priority.
Investments in renewable energy projects should support the broad range of technologies (i.e., wind, water, solar, geothermal, biomass/biofuels) with funding directed at smaller, distributed, and off-grid systems as well as larger, grid-connected, central station projects. Investments to upgrade existing transmission systems or create new “intelligent” ones to bring renewable electricity from remote locations to urban areas may also be justified. However, priority should be given to those projects and technologies that can be brought on line most quickly, have the lowest environmental or social impacts, create the largest number of jobs, are most cost-effective, and produce the most energy.
We appreciate your consideration of these views.
cc. Members, Senate Committee on Appropriations
Members, House Committee on Appropriations
Couple of quick thoughts:
1. I love how politicians attempt to subvert criticism of their decisions by including the obvious downsides as “priorities”. Money should be spent as quickly as possible, but also wisely. We should create the most jobs, but also spend funds cost effectively. Blah, blah, blah…..
2. I’m a staunch proponent of the Smart Grid, but remain skeptical of plans to get the ball rolling by installing a toothless advanced meter in everyone’s house. Reminds me of the car shell idea, and thus of 5 year plans.
3. I’m obviously happy to see transmission in there. However, even absent any siting and permitting holdups, I don’t see how this fits the 6-24 month criteria.
4. Bike trails – Werd.

One Response to “Hot off the press”

  1. Carlos Ferreira said

    They talk about quick spending, what? 4 times? Impressive! The idea is simple: get money spent quick. Do it quickly. And create jobs, whatever that means.
    There are some good ideas there, but the point is simple: we want it all now and we don’t care how efficiently money is spent, and how expensive it will be, as long as we diminish the unemployment rate.
    Sounds like a bundle of quick-fix ideas.

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