How Will the Economic Stimulus Plan Affect Environment and Energy?

February 15, 2009 by Tommy Linsley  
Filed under Sustainable Development


Reading through this story in Yahoo News (see quotes below) you can see a rough explanation of where stimulus money is planned to be directed.  An effort is being made; a good sign.  But, reading through the story you can’t help but wonder if throwing money at our economic problems will help or hurt.  Part of the reason things got to this point is due to unwise spending, loaning, and profit-mongering.

Yes, putting money in the right places will go a long way to helping with our present dire situation.  However, a shift in attitude and ideas must come along with it.  If we are to repair what has been broken, we need to look beyond simply throwing money at the problem.  Hopefully, our legislators will realize this also.

Before we get into Environment and Energy, let’s take a look at just how the stimulus plan can get our nation even further into debt:

National debt:

One thing about the president’s $790 billion stimulus package is certain: It will jack up the federal debt.

Whether or not it succeeds in producing jobs and taming the recession, tomorrow’s taxpayers will end up footing the bill.

Forecasters expect the 2009 deficit — for the budget year that began last Oct 1 — to hit $1.6 trillion including new stimulus and bank-bailout spending. That’s about three times last year’s shortfall.

The torrents of red ink are being fed by rising federal spending and falling tax revenues from hard-hit businesses and individuals.

The national debt — the sum of all annual budget deficits — stands at $10.7 trillion. Or about $36,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
National Debt
Interest payments alone on the national debt will near $500 billion this year. It’s already the fourth-largest federal expenditure, after Medicare-Medicaid, Social Security and defense.

This will affect us all directly for years, as well as our children and possibly grandchildren, in higher taxes and probably reduced government services. It will also force continued government borrowing, increasingly from China, Japan, Britain, Saudi Arabia and other foreign creditors.

Now, let’s look at how the stimulus plan will affect the environment and energy; hopefully on a positive note: 

Environment:

The package includes $9.2 billion for environmental projects at the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. The money would be used to shutter abandoned mines on public lands, to help local governments protect drinking water supplies, and to erect energy-efficient visitor centers at wildlife refuges and national parks.

The Interior Department estimates that its portion of the work would generate about 100,000 jobs over the next two years.

Yet the plan will only make a dent in the backlog of cleanups facing the EPA and the long list of chores at the country’s national parks, refuges and other public lands. It would be more like a down payment.

When it comes to national parks, the plan sets aside $735 million for road repairs and maintenance. But that’s a fraction of the $9 billion worth of work waiting for funding.

At EPA, the payout is $7.2 billion. The bulk of the money will help local communities and states repair and improve drinking water systems and fund projects that protect bays, rivers and other waterways used as sources of drinking water.

The rest of EPA’s cut — $800 million — will be used to clean up leaky gasoline storage tanks and the nation’s hazardous waste sites.

Energy:

Homeowners looking to save energy, makers of solar panels and wind turbines and companies hoping to bring the electric grid into the computer age all stand to reap major benefits.

The package contains more than $42 billion in energy-related investments from tax credits to homeowners to loan guarantees for renewable energy projects and direct government grants for makers of wind turbines and next-generation batteries.

There’s a 30 percent tax credit of up to $1,500 for the purchase of a highly efficient residential air conditioners, heat pumps or furnaces. The credit also can be used by homeowners to replace leaky windows or put more insulation into the attic. About $300 million would go for rebates to get people to buy efficient appliances.

The package includes $20 billion aimed at “green” jobs to make wind turbines, solar panels and improve energy efficiency in schools and federal buildings. It includes $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects as well as tax breaks or direct grants covering 30 percent of wind and solar energy investments. Another $5 billion is marked to help low-income homeowners make energy improvements.

About $11 billion goes to modernize and expand the nation’s electric power grid and $2 billion to spur research into batteries for future electric cars.

Below is good news that legislators might have their minds in the “right place”.  They seem to realize that education should be a major part of the plan to steer our national economy back on course.

Schools:

A main goal of education spending in the stimulus bill is to help keep teachers on the job.

Nearly 600,000 jobs in elementary and secondary schools could be eliminated by state budget cuts over the next three years, according to a study released this past week by the University of Washington. Fewer teachers means higher class sizes, something that districts are scrambling to prevent.

The stimulus sets up a $54 billion fund to help prevent or restore state budget cuts, of which $39 billion must go toward kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education. In addition, about $8 billion of the fund could be used for other priorities, including modernization and renovation of schools and colleges, though how much is unclear, because Congress decided not to specify a dollar figure.

The Education Department will distribute the money as quickly as it can over the next couple of years.

And it adds $25 billion extra to No Child Left Behind and special education programs, which help pay teacher salaries, among other things.

This money may go out much more slowly; states have five years to spend the dollars, and they have a history of spending them slowly. In fact, states don’t spend all the money; they return nearly $100 million to the federal treasury every year.

The stimulus bill also includes more than $4 billion for the Head Start and Early Head Start early education programs and for child care programs.

Higher Education:
Educate Their Minds
The maximum Pell Grant, which helps the lowest-income students attend college, would increase from $4,731 currently to $5,350 starting July 1 and $5,550 in 2010-2011. That would cover three-quarters of the average cost of a four-year college. An extra 800,000 students, or about 7 million, would now get Pell funding.

The stimulus also increases the tuition tax credit to $2,500 and makes it 40 percent refundable, so families who don’t earn enough to pay income tax could still get up to $1,000 in extra tuition help.

Computer expenses will now be an allowable expense for 529 college savings plans.
(Note: It’s about time. For several years, computer-access has been a necessary part of many college courses. When I was at Texas Tech University beginning in 1996, you received your assignments through e-mail.)

The final package cut $6 billion the House wanted to spend to kick-start building projects on college campuses. But parts of the $54 billion state stabilization fund — with $39 billion set aside for education — can be used for modernizing facilities.

There’s also an estimated $15 billion for scientific research, much of which will go to universities. Funding for the National Institutes of Health includes $1.5 billion set aside for university research facilities.

Altogether, the package spends an estimated $32 billion on higher education

Quoted material excerpted from Yahoo News.

Possibly Related Posts:


Share With Your Friends:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Propeller
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • NewsVine
  • Slashdot
  • Furl
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • Ping.fm
StumbleUpon It!

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post  Post to Ping.fm Ping This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

  • Winsor Pilates

Comments

12 Responses to “How Will the Economic Stimulus Plan Affect Environment and Energy?”
  1. Hey, nice tips. Perhaps I’ll buy a glass of beer to the man from that forum who told me to go to your site :)

    • Glad to see you appreciate our work.

      If you don’t find “the man from that forum” then consider buying us a beer instead.
      Just use the “Donate” button widget in the side bar of our Home Page. It’s in the sidebar next to our green MyBlogLog box.
      Or, use the link provided below. Thanks in advance.
      Donate Button

  2. This new energy efficient tax plan has boosted sales for my company, and in return I hired more employee’s to help with the new demand. So if I were asked if this plan is helping the economy, I would say yes!

    • Some like to criticize government, especially a new administration enters office.
      Considering what they were given to work with from the previous administration,
      the new team is doing a respectable job. Those who criticize our new president should
      keep in mind that this is a team effort. The president makes recommendations, but his
      word is not final. U.S. government policy is a collaborative effort.

  3. You can also find a good article I wrote here at my blog about this tax credit: http://www.mbmcarpentry.com/blog/

  4. Awesome analysis. Must’ve taken quite some time. I certainly think renewable energy is the future and its great to see this new administration putting so much time, money and effort into promoting it!

    Solar gadgets’s last blog post..Organic solar cells [1]

  5. Max from Renovations says:

    I’m all for the stimulus plan. Most of the schools in my area have already been recently renovated, so I’m curious to see what they will do with the extra money.

    • Cool Stimulus Plan benefit: there are companies that offer portable, trailer mounted solar panels. Once purchased, the Stimulus Plan should reimburse a large percentage of your expense.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Send To Twitter What's CommenTwitter?

CommentLuv Enabled

This site uses KeywordLuv. Enter YourName@YourKeywords in the Name field to take advantage.