The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed by a vote of 244 to 188 the economic recovery bill proposed by the Obama administration and Democratic Congressional leaders.
The “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” includes at least $37.9 billion for energy efficiency, $27.8 billion for renewable energy and $14.6 billion for public transit and clean transportation, for a total of $80 billion in clean energy funding.
The level of transportation spending was increase by $3 billion from the initial proposal, following an amendment introduced by Representative Nadler (D-NY).
Environmental groups applauded members of Congress who voted for the package.
“With this economic recovery package, Congress took the first step down the road to a new clean energy economy for America,” said Environment America Washington D.C. Office Director Anna Aurilio. “This bill will deliver more secure energy in the long term; less global warming pollution; fewer asthma attacks from air pollution; more clean lakes and rivers for drinking water, swimming and fishing, and more green jobs right here at home.”
In addition to extending clean energy tax credits for three years, the bill makes an adjustment to the renewable energy production tax credits that Environment America estimates will create or sustain 254,000 quality jobs such as in engineering, installation, construction and maintenance. The bill allows new or struggling renewable energy companies with no profit or tax liability to apply to the Department of Energy for grants in place of the tax credits they cannot use.
The bill dramatically expands federal funding for state- and city-directed weatherization programs. According to Environment America’s analysis of the bill’s provisions on energy efficiency, the $6.2 billion investment in the Weatherization Assistance Program will reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 12 million tons, create 465,000 new jobs over two years and meet President Obama’s goal of weatherizing two million homes.
“Through the clean energy and green infrastructure investments in this economic recovery package, we can make a down payment on solving global warming while delivering the economic boost we need,” concluded Aurilio. “We applaud Congress for passing a green recovery package and urge the Senate to keep it clean for a greener, safer, stronger America.”
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Former Vice President Al Gore testified before the Senate yesterday, urging members to first pass President Obama's stimulus package, and then put a price on carbon emissions.
Read Reuters coverage of his testimony at the link below.