Green America is a membership-based organization with over 120,000 consumer-members, and over 5,000 Green Business members which include 300 fair trade businesses and 500 socially responsible investment firms. They solicited input from their consumer and business members so that they could represent their priorities to the Obama transition team.
Alisa Gravitz presented the following to the Obama transition team on 1/12/09.
Here are the top priorities of Green America:
- Green jobs and green energy:
Green America applauds President‐elect Obamaʹs leadership to make green jobs and green energy the centerpiece of his plan to jumpstart the economy. A shift to a green economy, with green energy and green jobs as its foundation is essential for our nationʹs future. We celebrate the Presidentelect for his vision of green jobs and green energy as being essential for the social and economic well‐being of American families, for the environment and for energy independence.
We prepared a briefing paper for you on what we think are some of the best administrative, legislative and educational strategies for advancing the green jobs/green energy agenda. But most importantly, I want to underscore that Green Americaʹs constituents told us that green jobs/green energy is their top priority – before anything that might be considered a more personal or business interest. As one member told me, ʺIf thereʹs just one thing you can do at the meeting on Monday – please dramatize the importance of energy efficiency. People all say how great energy efficiency is – but really give it razzle‐dazzle so everyone at this meeting passionately embraces it and gives their all to make it happen.ʺ
Well, Iʹm no drama queen – Iʹm much better known for the wonkier side of economic and environmental policy. So perhaps Iʹll play to my wonky strength and underline that if we can help families save $2,000 a year on their energy bills – thatʹs the same as giving them a $2,000 economic stimulus tax credit this year and next year and every year into the future. If we can help every small business save $5,000, $10,000, $100,000 in energy costs – that will save business and jobs this year and help grow businesses and jobs next year and the next and the next. If we can reduce the energy bill of every family facing foreclosure, it can help save their homes. If we can cut the energy bill of every state, local and federal government building in half over the next few years – we can make a meaningful dent in all of those projected budget deficits.
So we affirm your direction on green energy and green jobs as crucial for our country – and want to up the ante: How about a call for every home, business and government building to cut 50% of their energy bill over the next five years – just 10% per year. And yes we can. Energy radical Amory Lovins says we can. Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company says we can. And Juneau, Alaska proves we can. After an avalanche last summer that affected their electricity supply, they cut 30% of their energy use in just two weeks – the rest of the country can certainly do 50% in five years!
- Clean Energy Victory Bonds: We are concerned that even though there is greatpopular support for green energy and green jobs – that when these proposals hitCongress, there could be resistance about the price tag in the midst of a globalrecession. So Green America proposes Clean Energy Victory Bonds to help fund theenergy efficiency, renewable energy and green energy infrastructure projects thatthe Obama Administration envisions.
Clean Energy Victory Bonds are modeled on the successful World War II‐era Victory War Bonds. Those bonds raised $185 billion – which is nearly $2 trillion in todayʹs dollars, with ordinary citizens buying these savings bonds for as little as $25. Over 85 million Americans bought these bonds to support the war effort.
During the town hall‐style presidential debate, one person posed the question to the then‐candidates: ʺWhat will you ask us to do?ʺ Green Americaʹs answer: Buy Clean Energy Victory Bonds. And the idea that people across the country can participate by investing small amounts ‐‐ $25, $50, $100 – is wonderfully congruent with how the Obama‐team financed the presidential campaign.
Clean Energy Victory Bonds can be structured as long term bonds (10+ years) that provide a secure investment for American families and businesses, with an annual interest rate and payback based in part on the energy savings that the projects financed by the bonds generate.
Wouldnʹt it be great to give this generation of Americans the opportunity to help finance the shift to green energy? And wouldnʹt it be great to have an additional $2 trillion to finance the green energy and green jobs effort? Weʹve prepared a briefing paper to leave with you on Clean Energy Victory bonds and would love to talk withyou in detail about the legislation and campaign to make this happen.
Green Business Expansion Fund: Weʹd like to see small business grants and loansmade to green companies so that they can survive, thrive and create more green jobsduring this economic crisis. And weʹd like to see small business grants and loansfor all businesses to help them go green – and hire all those people getting trainedfor green jobs. This would be ideal for a public‐private partnership with theorganizations in this room. Groups like RSF Social Finance could run the fund;organizations like Green America, B‐Corp, Social Venture Network and BusinessAlliance for Local Living Economies could help vet the companies and provide thetechnical assistance for the companies to succeed. Weʹll leave a briefing paper withyou on this and other ideas of interest to the small, green business community.
Health Care Reform: Green Americaʹs consumer and business members affirm President‐electʹs leadership on health care as a top priority. Our small business members especially underscored how this is essential both at the visionary level – to have the kind of social responsibility that we want our country to be famous for, and at the practical level ‐‐ essential for the survival of many small companies.
Green America believes that the changes your new administration envisions for the health insurance system are necessary and essential – but not sufficient to deal with the health care crisis. For example, within the next decade, the majority of Medicare costs will be for diabetes and its complications. Yet diabetes, and many other expensive and debilitating conditions, can be prevented or ameliorated with diet and exercise.
Therefore, Green America proposes creating a whole new vista for health care – and a major new career opportunity – health care coaches. These coaches would help patients and their families get back their health – and save Medicare and the health care system billions of dollars every year. We need these coaches in every community and on every block. It represents job creation on the order of magnitude of green energy jobs – starting in the communities, from African‐American to Native American, hardest hit by diabetes and related diseases. These jobs would be paid for by the savings in Medicare expenses while the health and well‐being it would bring to American families would be priceless. This idea has been tested with great success in other countries. Green America would love to talk with you further about this direction in health care and jobs.
- Transformational Economic System Thinking: There are many who hope that the current global economic crisis will be ʺfixedʺ and we can ʺget back to the way things were.ʺ Others are beginning to say that this crisis marks the end of an era, and thereʹs no going back, we have to move forward with new economic thinking. Green America wants to affirm that both views have value: the first priority is to stabilize the current economic situation, and then it is time to talk about transformative system changes – from the short‐term focus of todayʹs markets to structure of the monetary system to the dependence on debt and consumerism as the engines of our economy. There are exciting, transformative system change ideas emerging – and we would love to be in dialogue with you about them over the longterm. We are preparing a briefing paper for you to start the conversation.
So, those, in a nutshell, are Green Americaʹs priorities – green energy and green jobs, Clean Energy Victory Bonds, Green Business Loan Fund, Health Care Reform, and Transformation Economic System Thinking.
Here at Green America we offer to:
You have the whole country routing for you, and great ideas coming from everywhere, so, in closing, I want to underscore the importance of Clean Energy Victory Bonds. You have the right ideas, the right team, and the willingness of the country to take the steps we all need to take. Now thereʹs the little matter of the additional funding to make it happen. How? Four words ‐‐ Clean Energy Victory Bonds! The rest is detail. We look forward to helping you with the details for the good of all.
Thank you for your time and this great opportunity to be part of the dialogue on how the Obama Administration can lead this country and the world out of these tough times and into real opportunity for the 21st century.