Monday, February 9, 2009

Obama and the stimulus

In my mind, the biggest news for the environment is President Obama's win.

Finally, after 8 years of attacks on our environment, we finally have a president in office who realizes that the trees, air, and water have a very real value. I'm so interested to see how the environmental movement changes now that it may not have to be so completely on the defensive.

There is a lot of argument about how to spend the 800 billion proposed stimulus package that Obama is trying to deliver. There is a large segment of money going toward "green" initiatives. Arguments that this does not immediately create jobs are flying. First of all, I disagree, the jobs created run the gamut from manufacturing parts (huge steel windmills) to final installation (roof solar panels), as well as all the work involved in building a smart power grid to manage power coming in and going out of the system. Perhaps more importantly I would argue that it gives us jobs in an area that gives us long term advantages (energy independence) and doesn't create jobs just to fill parking lots with the same gas eating cars we need to move on from. Some of the stimulus money would also go to research in environmental areas so that the dollars we spend on infrastructure pack more of a punch. During the Bush years, the NASA mission statement was changed to obscure the earth science division. Finally in this stimulus package they will be getting the real support they need again. I hope Obama "stays the course" on this one - of course there is argument about how to spend such a massive sum of money, but energy independence and control of carbon emissions is a no-brainer.