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The Stimulus: A Down Payment on a Green Future

Pretty soon, Kermit the Frog is going to need a new song to sing. I'm not saying it's easy being green. But it's getting easier.

As part of the $787 billion stimulus package that President Obama just signed, the federal government will be investing about $60 billion in clean energy, environmental projects, and scientific research.

Gene Karpinski, head of the League of Conservation Voters, calls it "by far the biggest investment in new green technologies that we've ever seen from the federal government."

This is a huge step forward for America. The twin crises of economic collapse and ecological devastation have proven that the old, pollution-based economy has failed both the people and the planet. The 'green' money in the stimulus package is a down payment on a clean, green economy that will serve both the people and the planet.

Check out some of the details:

  • $11 billion for the creation of a smart energy grid
  • $8.4 billion for public transit
  • $6.3 billion for state and local energy efficiency grants
  • $6 billion for the cleanup of contaminated Department of Defense sites
  • $4.5 billion to green federal buildings
  • $1.2 billion for the EPA's cleanup programs

Plus, the final version of the bill eliminates the loan guarantees the Senate had included for nuclear and so-called clean coal technology development -- false environmental 'solutions' that would have made matters worse, not better.

It's an especially exciting moment for me and my colleagues at Green For All, the Apollo Alliance, the Workforce Alliance and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The stimulus includes $500 million for green jobs training -- funding we've been trying to get for two years. That means that the recovery package won't just stimulate the green economy. It will also make sure that the green economy includes pathways out of poverty for low-income people and people of color.

If only the billions that went to tax cuts had been used for even more green investments! Then Kermit would have had to completely rewrite that song.

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Van Jones

Van Jones, President of Rebuild the Dream, and author of the new book Rebuild the Dream. Jones was the founder and former president of Green for All and author of The Green Collar Economy. In 2009, he served as the green jobs advisor in the Obama White House. Van is currently a senior fellow at the Center For American Progress, and also holds a joint appointment at Princeton University, as a distinguished visiting fellow in both the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

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