How the US auto industry is creating jobs and cutting pollution while helping Americans save money

Imagine if our nation was offered a choice of how to spend half a trillion dollars of our wealth over the next two decades.
One option would be to send $350 billion overseas to the Middle East and other oil exporting countries, and the remainder on increasing oil industry revenues.
An alternative option would be to take that half a trillion dollars and invest $300 billion directly into the U.S. auto industry, put $200 billion back into consumers’ pockets, and create half a million new jobs while cutting emissions of dangerous carbon pollution.
Is this choice just a pipe dream? Is it too simplistic a way to look at things?

CBO finds corn ethanol costs taxpayers nearly $2 a gallon in subsidies (on top of the price at the pump)

By Sasha Lyutse
Yesterday afternoon, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its evaluation of the costs and benefits of federal biofuels tax credits, including the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), the largest U.S. subsidy for renewable energy that goes almost entirely to corn ethanol. The release comes against the backdrop of a full court press by corn ethanol industry lobbyists to push Congress to extend the VEETC and a disappointing attempt by Senator Amy Klobuchar to attach a 5-year extension of the corn ethanol tax credit to a Senate energy bill ostensibly supporting renewable energy, which we discussed here and the NRDC Action Fund discussed here.

Robert Redford says the BP oil disaster shows need for clean energy

The Natural Resources Defense Council, and many other environmental groups, are campaigning with renewed vigor for a clean energy bill, in the wake of the ongoing BP oil disaster.

In this NRDC video, longtime conservationist Robert Redford reflects on the oil catastrophe, saying its time to recognize that self-interested oil companies will never want to give up risky oil drilling, if there’s profit to be made.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, drilling away at environmental protections

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
While some U.S. senators struggle to find a way forward on climate action, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has stepped into the fray to call for a time out.
Murkowski, in fact, has been in the fray for a while. And while she’s not alone — many others in Congress have said they’re more concerned about slowing government regulations than slowing climate change — she has recently distinguished herself as one of the strongest opponents of controls on carbon pollution.

Murkowski, a longtime, ardent supporter of oil drilling, has become more vocal in the past year in her efforts to keep industry free of strong environmental controls. In January, she proposed stripping the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. More recently, she’s lamented that the BP oil disaster has temporarily halted exploratory offshore drilling in the arctic planned by Shell Oil for this summer; a topic that even many conservative opponents of climate action have remained silent on in the face of the ongoing historic, despoiling of the gulf.

U.S. Green Building Council adds certification for neighborhoods

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced a new “LEED for Neighborhood Development” rating system today that aims to reward communities that try to reduce urban sprawl, increase walkability and transportation options, and decrease automobile dependence.

The new certification, developed with the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council, hopes to encourage development within or near existing communities and public infrastructure to reduce the impact of sprawl. It is the seventh rating system for the USGBC, which certifies residential, commercial and other properties based on their environmental footprint.

Frances Beinecke: Earth Day was a ray of optimism in a dark time

Earth Day Was a Ray of Optimism in a Dark Time

Frances Beinecke

“I don’t remember exactly what I did on the first Earth Day 40 years ago, but I remember exactly how I felt: deeply relieved,” writes Frances Beinecke. “You have to realize, the spring of 1970 was a tumultuous time. I was a junior at Yale, but most of us were essentially on strike. We never went to class, because we were far too embroiled in the political upheaval around us. Students were up in arms about the draft. Protests against the escalation in Vietnam had reached a fevered pitch–indeed four students would be shot dead by National Guardsmen at Kent State that May. Meanwhile the National Guard had descended on the streets of New Haven because Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panthers, was on trial downtown.”

Stimulus plan puts green into green; the details so far…

From Green Right Now Reports:

In a alert released this afternoon, entitled “Congress Gets It Right — Recovery Deal to Spur Clean Energy Economy”, the Natural Resources Defense Council praised the compromise stimulus package hammered out by Congress for the ways it steers the American economy in a greener direction.

“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,”effused Wesley Warren, director of programs for the NRDC. “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.

Green groups need your year-end donations

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Now that you’ve worn off the magnetic strip on the credit card buying presents for everyone, gotten the letter that your health insurance premiums are doubling and your job is being “redefined,” it’s time to think about those year-end donations. Sigh.

While environmental groups will likely have an easier time on Capitol Hill next year talking policy with a new Administration that sees global warming as a real threat, they paradoxically could be facing headwinds with donors.

Consider first that some of their large contributors may have been dragged down in the Bernard Madoff securities/Ponzi scheme, which savaged many charitable foundations. While the extent of that damage is being assessed, it’s safe to assume that even nonprofits that escaped that five-alarm fire, have been singed by the economic meltdown.

Steeling A Green Future

By Barbara Kessler

The United Steelworkers have been busy constructing a new green future for themselves, building wind turbines, for instance, at existing mills that might otherwise be suffering in the economic downturn. Now the labor group wants to, shall we say, buttress that future, by promoting green energy and jobs all around.usw.jpg

Working with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the USW today announced an American green jobs initiative that will promote renewable energy and independence from fossil fuels, an endeavor that could create more than 820,000 new green jobs nationwide, according to the press release.