For Immediate Release
January 12, 2009
Environmental and Energy
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New report emphasizes benefits of "green" economic recovery plan
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today joined representatives from Community Labor United and Environment Massachusetts, the state chapter of the national organization Environment America, for the release of a report highlighting the potential to reduce pollution and stimulate the economy through clean energy and green technology investments. Environment America's report, titled "Clean Energy, Bright Future: Rebuilding America through Green Infrastructure," focuses on the green aspects of the federal economic recovery plan. Working with President-elect Obama's transition Team and the Patrick-Murray Administration, Mayor Menino recently submitted his updated recommendations for the federal economic recovery package. These recommendations include $550 million of local projects that will create over 10,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in economic impact over two years. More than $100 million of Mayor Menino's proposals are related to clean energy and green infrastructure investments for Boston.
"While it's true that we are battling a recession, now is the time to start planning for the future," Mayor Menino said. "My administration has worked to build a foundation for Boston to be a leader in sustainable development and green job creation. This report underscores the need for comprehensive action from the local, state, and federal government in order to move our economy and our environment in the right direction for the future. Boston is ready to play an essential role in strengthening our neighborhoods and repairing our economy by investing in clean energy sources and green infrastructure."
President-elect Obama has pledged to make clean energy and green infrastructure a cornerstone of America's economic recovery. In his first radio address of 2009, President-elect Obama said, "To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will double renewable energy production and renovate public building to make them more energy efficient." While the details of the federal stimulus package continue to be refined, the City has proposed in investments that are "ready-to-go," given the Obama Transition Team and the Patrick-Murray Administration's criteria for projects to start within 180 days and be completed within 2 years.
Environment America's report estimates the environmental benefits of $150 billion in investments in clean energy and green infrastructure. These investments will reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the leading cause of global warming, by 670 million tons per year when fully implemented, representing a significant step towards reducing the nation's global warming pollution by 35 percent by 2020. The recommendations to reduce oil consumption by more than 25 million barrels annually would be equivalent to taking one million cars off of the road each year. All together, this undertaking would result in a rapid transition of the U.S. economy to clean energy and put more than 3 million people back to work in ready-to-go projects.
"We can renew our Commonwealth, and put people to work in good paying jobs, with an economic recovery plan that invests in renewable energy, public transit and energy efficiency," said Ben Wright, advocate with Environment Massachusetts.
The recommendations are a combination of broad-scale federal initiatives, state-centered programs, tax credits, public transportation projects, investing in green research and development, and job creation programs.
With green investments central to any economic recovery plan, the City of Boston has submitted proposals through the Municipal Task Force to Governor Deval Patrick for over $100 million in clean energy and green infrastructure investments. Mayor Menino's Renew Boston initiative could benefit from $30 million in economic recovery funding for three projects: (1) $13 million for renewable energy installations; (2) $8 million to implement an integrated energy management plan; and (3) $6.65 million for the low income residential energy efficiency program.
The City of Boston has long been promoting the connection between environmental policy, economic development, and job creation. In December, 2007 Mayor Menino announced the formation of a Boston Green Jobs Initiative. Through the Mayor's Office of Jobs and Community Services, over $350,000 in grants have been programmed for green jobs and workforce development training programs in Boston.
Community Labor United, a Boston-based advocacy organization, recently published a report entitled The Green Justice Solution. The report and Community Labor United's organizing is focused on connecting local community residents to good paying jobs that emerge in this growing green economy.
"In our race to get our economy moving in the right direction again, we must ensure that new job opportunities and economic prosperity touch those who need it most," Kalila Barnett, Senior Organizer for Community Labor United, said. "Green jobs can provide career pathways that allow workers to reach for new heights on an exciting and expanding career ladder."
BACKGROUND ON THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN
President-elect Obama's team and members of Congress are actively working on a federal economic recovery bill with the goal of enactment within the early days of President-elect Obama's Administration. The bill will likely include significant funding for "ready-to-go" infrastructure, school modernization, energy efficiency and renewable energy, broadband, and community and economic development projects. Estimates of the total investments have ranged from $750 billion to $1 trillion.
On Thursday, January 8, 2009, President-elect Obama delivered a speech on his economic policy. In part, he noted, "To build an economy that can lead this future, we will begin to rebuild America. Yes, we'll put people to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools by eliminating the backlog of well-planned, worthy and needed infrastructure projects, but we'll also do more to retrofit America for a global economy. That means updating the way we get our electricity by starting to build a new smart grid that will save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation. It means expanding broadband lines across America so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world. And it means investing in the science, research and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries."
U.S. Conference of Mayors Advocacy As part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), Mayor Menino has advocated to members of the Obama transition team that a significant portion of the economic recovery funding should be given directly to cities through direct aid programs such as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and the Surface Transportation Program (STP). To that end, the City of Boston responded to the USCM's call to demonstrate to the Obama team and the Congress what projects could be undertaken within 90 days, completed within two years, and what the economic impact would be. The City has developed an inventory of these projects across all sectors of the Mayor Menino's Cabinet.
Partnering with the State The City of Boston also understands that economic recovery resources will potentially flow through the states and has been active with the Commonwealth's Task Forces established by Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray's Administration. Seven state task forces have pulled together a list of projects that might be eligible for funding. The states criteria for projects was broader than the USCM criteria in that they asked for projects that must be "shovel-ready" within 180 days and must be able to be completed within two years. This is an additional 90 days as compared to the list that the City had prepared for the USCM. Given the expanded time-frame, the City increased the number of projects submitted to the state task forces for consideration.
State Task Forces:
- Clean Energy and Efficiency
- Education Facilities
- Information Technology (including electronic medical records and broadband)
- Private Development
- State Facilities and Courts (this includes public housing)
- Municipal Facilities
Based on guidance from the federal government, the state asked that all projects submitted for all task forces support the following key goals:
- Job creation in key Massachusetts industry sectors (both temporary and long term)
- Creation of new workforce housing
- Clean energy production or use
- Reduce energy consumption and/or greenhouse gas emissions
- Promote mobility and/or reduce congestion
- Development within growth districts
- Redevelopment projects in gateway plus cities
- Other smart growth development projects