The challenge is the economy; the opportunity is clean energy.
More and more Americans realize that these challenges are connected.
Our over-reliance on fossil fuels is the leading source of global warming emissions, pollutes our air and water, and exposes consumers to the price spikes of a global fuel market.
We need to repower America by shifting to 100 percent homegrown, clean electricity, cut our dependence on oil in half, and dramatically cut global warming pollution – moves that will create millions of green jobs.
With $80 billion for clean energy and public transit, the economic recovery plan signed by President Obama is a good down payment on repowering America with a clean energy economy.
Obama and those of us who supported the economic recovery plan pushed for investments in clean energy to reduce global warming pollution and oil dependence and to create jobs – far more jobs than the dirty energies of the past.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will put Americans to work in good jobs – weatherizing homes and federal buildings, installing renewable energy projects, and expanding public transit to meet growing demand.
Just one of the programs funded will weatherize more than 1 million homes of low-income Americans.
This is an enormous expansion of a program that has reduced participants’ energy use by 32 percent and saved each an average of $358 per year on energy bills.
When fully implemented, the clean energy provisions of the plan will prevent approximately 68 million tons of global warming pollution, save 14 billion barrels of oil per year, and create 1.5 million jobs.
Here in Arizona, the bill provides an estimated $54.4 million for weatherization, which will prevent 23,976 tons of global warming pollution and create 4,080 jobs.
The bill also will fund an estimated $105 million in state public transit projects that will reduce our oil dependence and create an additional 3,163 jobs.
While the economic recovery bill represents an important down payment on a clean energy future, we must do more.
The key to keep moving toward a clean energy economy is enactment of strong measures that cap global warming pollution, require polluters to reduce and pay for their pollution, set standards for clean energy generation for efficiency and renewable energy, and drive massive new investments in clean energy technologies.
America is at a crossroads on energy. We can help President Obama put millions of Americans to work building a clean energy future, or stay the course with oil companies and other polluters that favor the status quo.
We look forward to working with President Obama to realize our shared vision of a clean energy economy.
Clean energy can power Az, U.S.
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., represents the 7th Congressional District. Walter Sainsbury is program associate for the nonprofit Environment Arizona.
By Raul M. Grijalva, Walter Sainsbury