Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Green Budget: The Heat is On

Now that President-elect Obama has announced his economic team and outline of a "Green Deal" for the economy to create jobs, the pressure is on to go over the federal budget line by line.

Congress spends more than $3 trillion every year on big-ticket items such as Social Security, Medicare and interest on the $11 TRILLION national debt. Is it possible to go into every cost item and see how wasteful spending can be pared and environmental considerations brought into focus?

In the words of Sarah Palin, ``you betcha!" (wink here).

Here's a primer on what could be done courtesy of the Union of Concerned Scientists (of which I'm a member) and several other environmental groups.

WASHINGTON - November 25 - The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the nation's leading science-based policy organization, joined with more than two dozen environmental groups to produce a 340-page prescription detailing the steps the new Obama administration should take to jumpstart the economy, protect the environment, and enhance national security. The organizations, which have a combined membership of millions across the country, delivered the document to the Obama transition team late yesterday afternoon. (For a copy of the document, go to: www.saveourenvironment.org.)

Below is a statement by UCS President Kevin Knobloch:

"President-elect Obama has a popular mandate to move expeditiously to reduce our dependence on oil, curb global warming pollution, and pull the country out of recession. We're encouraged that he has signaled that his first order of business will be developing an economic investment package that will include investments in renewable energy and an upgrade and expansion of the electricity transmission grid, generating millions of new jobs.

"With his strong statement last week, President Obama also communicated his intent to immediately begin working with congressional leaders to craft a strong climate bill. Congress must promptly pass legislation reducing U.S. global warming emissions at least 80 percent by mid-century to give us a chance to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The president-elect understands this. His leadership will be paramount to pushing the right bill through Congress.

"The new administration also must restore scientific integrity in the federal government. Our policymakers need unfettered, independent science to make the right decisions.

"Science has been under siege during the past eight years. Political appointees have run roughshod over federal scientists, altering or suppressing their findings or skewing them to fit the administration's agenda. We are heartened that President-elect Obama has said that under his administration, government decisions will be based on the best available science, not on ideology.

"Finally, President-elect Obama has pledged to replace the culture of secrecy at federal science agencies with one of openness. When decisions are made in the open, it is much more difficult to suppress or manipulate scientific information to justify predetermined decisions. The president-elect must act quickly to create a thriving federal scientific enterprise."


Clean Energy, Climate Change, Economic Stimulus, Environmental Regulation Integrity (remember that?) and Environmental Justice

This is an ambitious document for the Obama Administration to use as a template as they explore ways to revitalize the economy and environmental policy.

Feel free to send the link above to your Congressional representatives and to the Obama transition team at www.change.gov.

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