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Green Schools and Fuel Efficiency…The Earth Wins this Week

May 21, 2009

In the last few weeks, climate change, energy and the environment have been front-and-center in the news. While the climate change bill that is moving through the House is not as good as it should be, there has been progress on a couple other key related issues.

A couple weeks ago, on May 14th, the House passed a “Green Schools” bill to provide $6.4 billion annually for the next five years to fund green school building and renovation projects. The bill passed 275-155; now it is up the Senate to pass a similar bill. To make this even better, the House bill has provisions to make sure that the money is focused especially on schools with low-income students.

I agree with Ben Chandler, a Democrat from Kentucky: “It will give much needed money to our schools struggling with huge budget deficits and deteriorating facilities while encouraging energy efficiency and creating jobs for Americans that cannot be shipped overseas.”

Funding education, the environment and jobs with one program–how could anyone oppose it during this time of crisis? Some argue this spending just adds to the deficit. This reminds me of a study by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities which shows where the U.S.’ budget deficit really came from: tax cuts (especially for the rich) and increases in military spending (especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Check this out in the most recent issue of FCNL’s Washington Newsletter.

The good news is that this bill is likely to pass in the Senate, and Obama will most certainly sign it, especially considering that his childhood middle school was named one of the top ten greenest schools in the country in 2007.

To top off this good news, Obama announced tougher fuel efficiency standards on Tuesday, May 19th. The new energy standards will finally match the fuel efficiency standards that California fought with the Bush Administration about for several years. According to NPR: “The new standards would cut greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks 30 percent by 2016. Cars would have to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.” It’s about time that the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House was more concerned about the environment than corporate interests!

I hope these new initiatives by the Federal Government start a trend of continuing environmental progress.

Lobby your Representative to make sure that this progress continues by improving the climate change bill that is in the House of Representatives.

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