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Congress Gets it Right: Recovery Deal to Spur Clean Energy Economy

WASHINGTON (February 13, 2009) – Congress came to an agreement on the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” to turn around America’s economy and advance President Obama’s transition to a clean energy future.
 
Wesley Warren, Director of Programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), issued the following statement:
 
“Congress really got it right with this economic recovery package that will deliver jobs and green infrastructure to America. The bill makes smart investments that will jumpstart the economy, help sustain future growth, and meet the challenges of the 21st century. We need to put America on a path to a clean-energy economy, and Congress has taken a big step forward in heeding this call.
 
The recovery package includes bold investments for renewable energy and efficiency, including weatherization programs that will save consumers billions while creating up to 90,000 jobs. Renewable energy grants will help struggling businesses cope with the economic climate and advance technology that harnesses the power of the wind and sun.
 
Repairing our nation’s outdated and corroded water and waste systems will create more than 200,000 jobs and improve the safety of our beaches, streams, and drinking water.
 
Transit investments put a down payment on transforming America’s transportation system, and create 19 percent more jobs than traditional highway spending. This is why America should prioritize fixing our crumbling roads and bridges and building rail systems, rather than new highways.
 
The economic recovery package reflects the commitment by Congress to fulfill President Obama’s vision for a clean energy future. It's a victory for the environment that will help pull our nation out of this economic slump.”
 
Here are funding levels and key changes in the conference report:
  • $50 billion for loan guarantees for liquid coal and nuclear energy has been removed from the bill
The bill provides:
  • $6 billion for clean and safe water, creating more than 200,000 jobs
  • $4.5 billion for greening federal buildings
  • State energy grants, issued through the Treasury Department, that will fund renewable energy projects that are eligible for the available tax credits
  • Funding for the state energy program, which includes important utility reforms and building code conditions
  • $2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy Research and Development
  • $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, creating approximately 90,000 jobs
  • A multi-year extension of the renewable production tax credit
  • A more effective tax credit for home efficiency upgrades
  • $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewables, transmission and leading edge biofuels
  • $2 billion for advanced batteries
  • $9.3 billion for intercity rail, including high-speed rail 
  • $27.5  billion for highways (this large pot of money is not exclusively for highways, and states and cities must use this flexibility to invest in fuel-efficient public transportation)
  • $8.4 billion for transit
  • $1.5 billion in competitive grants for transportation investments (which could be used for public transportation) 

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


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