Happy Earth Day Everyone!! This is the moment to celebrate the beauty of our planet, enjoy the natural diversity that nature has to offer, and to ponder the legacy which we will leave behind for our children and our children's children. Although I do believe Earth Day should be everyday, today is a great time to stop and re-focus our energy for the upcoming year, to think about how far we've come and figure out how much further we can go. "Living the green life" has never been so meaningful and necessary!
I came across this Earth Day message from one of Michigan's Senators, Debbie Stabenow, and thought I would re-run it here in my blog. It is well-articulated and relevant, here in a state that is suffering from the highest unemployment rate in the country. Green is not just a trendy fad, but a way to help revive our economy. Read on for Senator Stabenow's take on how green jobs can revitalize our nation.
The Hill, a Washington newspaper, today ran the following column from Senator Stabenow as part of their Earth Day special edition. Senator Stabenow lays out her plan for energy and climate legislation that will be focused on creating new jobs and revitalizing our economy.
Green jobs can help boost economy
By Senator Debbie Stabenow
"My state of Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful natural wonders you will ever see. Of course, we are surrounded by the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater system on Earth. We are also home to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the world, from the Sleeping Bear Dunes on the coast of Lake Michigan to the Pictured Rocks on the coast of Lake Superior. People from Michigan understand the importance of protecting our environment. It is so central to who we are, it might as well be in our DNA.
We are also in the midst of a terrible economic crisis. Michigan has felt the pain of this economic crisis far longer than any other state. Our unemployment continues to be the highest in the nation, a dubious distinction we have held for 34 months.
This Earth Day, as we consider new policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need to create a workable solution that will protect the environment and create much-needed jobs.
We cannot sit back and do nothing. Our economy cannot move forward while chained to the same old dependence on foreign oil and pollution that harms both our health and economic interests.
If we approach this issue in the right way, we have a significant opportunity to create new jobs and spark an economic transformation. Our climate policy must work for the working people in this country, whether they are farmers, manufacturers, or clean-technology engineers.
Happily, with new energy solutions come new jobs and new industries. America has always led the world in innovation and invention, and we can do it again with clean energy. Yet, the economic crisis has made it harder than ever for firms creating those technologies to get financing. Unfortunately, traditional lenders are wary of making investments in untested new technologies.
That is why the federal government must be willing to support these emerging industries. I have joined with Senator Jeff Bingaman in calling for a Clean Energy Fund to provide financing for these cutting-edge industries. The Senate version of the budget included this fund, and it will likely be included in the energy bill we will take up later this year.
A Clean Energy Fund is absolutely critical so that we do not trade a dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign technology.
Is there any wonder that as manufacturing jobs have vanished, so too has our middle class?
Other countries are investing heavily in green technology. Unfortunately, the United States has been behind the curve. The good news is that we are beginning to catch up - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included $2 billion for advanced battery research and manufacturing; it also included a new tax credit to encourage the manufacture of renewable energy products. Those are the kinds of investments we need to continue making to help create a clean energy future while also saving and creating manufacturing jobs in America.
A balanced energy policy can revitalize America's manufacturing sector, creating good-paying jobs and strengthening our middle class.
A wind turbine contains over 8,000 individual parts: nacelles, rotors, rotor blades, gearboxes, brakes, generators, yaw mechanisms, electronic controllers, hydraulics systems, cooling units, towers, anemometers - even simple wind vanes. Why not build those right here in America? In fact, we can! I am proud to say we can build all 8,000 parts in Michigan.
We cannot just use green technologies; we have to make them in the United States. Recent history has shown what happens when we rely primarily on foreign sources of energy: we subject ourselves to less-than friendly international governments who can manipulate supplies to increase prices and hurt the American people. If they can do it with oil, they can do it with wind turbines. We must not allow it.
The health of our environment is the legacy we will leave to our children. The solutions to our current problems must be equitable and fair. More importantly, they must create new opportunities for innovation and new, good-paying jobs. If we do this right, we can leave our children with a planet - and an economy - that is in better shape than we found it."