//How Ohio’s Economy Could Benefit From Obama’s Green Investment Plan

How Ohio’s Economy Could Benefit From Obama’s Green Investment Plan

When he takes office on January 20, President Barack Obama has said he will seek congressional approval to invest $150 billion over 10 years on clean energy initiatives. This would fund the development of renewable energy, invest in low-emissions coal plants, fund next-generation biofuels and fuel infrastructure, advance the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, and begin the transition to a new digital electricity grid.

Today, Environment Ohio, the nonprofit advocacy group, issued a report that estimates the environmental benefits to the state and the nation of such a $150 billion investment.

America can reduce oil consumption by more than 25 million barrels annually, reduce greenhouse gases by nearly 10 percent annually, and create or sustain more than three million jobs by making investment in clean energy and transportation a cornerstone of our economic recovery plan, says the report, “Clean Energy, Bright Future.”

Amy Gomberg, program director with Environment Ohio said,”Our nation can no longer afford the toll dirty energy is exacting on our environment and economy. Clean energy can protect our environment and rev our economic engine to generate a brighter future for Ohio.”

Among the recommendations in the report are weatherizing U.S. homes and businesses, training workers for new, clean energy industries, and increasing public transportation capacity to meet growing demand.

Dozens of Ohio companies are gearing up to be a part of this green economic recovery plan, the report finds.

Mike Foraker is CEO of Jennings Heating and The Energy Factory, an energy consulting company that identifies energy saving improvements for corporations.

“Jennings Heating has been in the energy business for over 70 years, and we have been and continue to be successful because we help people find the best answer to their energy needs, not the familiar one,” Foraker said from his office in Akron. “I hope that Congress will look to green energy solutions as well.”

The Environment Ohio report and its recommendations were well received by Ohio’s congressional representatives.

“It is critical to get our nation’s economy moving again and to ensure that those that have lost their jobs or can’t find work can do so as soon as possible. A great way to stimulate the economy is by creating green jobs and promoting environmentally friendly development,” said Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy, a Democrat. “I appreciate the efforts of Environment Ohio to highlight what can be done in Ohio to stimulate the economy in a green way.”

“It is clear that our country should move away from foreign sources of energy and increase our domestic production of alternative renewable power. I am proud that innovators throughout our region are developing the next generation of clean, American made energy and paving the way for energy independence,” said Congresswoman Betty Sutton, a Democrat. “This is the kind of innovation and growth that will create good-paying green jobs, help protect our environment and bring renewed economic vitality to our region.”

Congressman John Boccieri, a Democrat, has a laundry list of things that can be done in Ohio to further the green economy.

“We need to create an Apollo program that would revolutionize our energy sources and free us from our dependence on foreign oil, support fuel cell research at Stark State, invest in emerging technologies like plug-in hybrid cars that are being researched at the EBO Group in Medina County, support agriculture as Ohio’s number one industry with research being conducted at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wayne County, and invest in sustainable biofuels that can be grown out of Ashland County,” said Boccieri.

Ohio Republican Congressman John Boehner, who serves as House Minority Leader, did not comment directly on the Environment Ohio report, but he has said that he is committed to “a comprehensive energy reform policy that will boost supplies of all forms of energy right here at home to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, protect us against blackmail by foreign dictators, create American jobs and grow our economy.”

“This includes increasing the supply of American-made energy in an environmentally sound way, improving energy efficiency and encouraging investment in groundbreaking research in advance alternative and renewable energy technologies,” Boehner said.

“With 21st century technologies and the strictest environmental standards in the world, America must produce more of our own energy right here at home and protect our environment at the same time,” said Boehner.

Akron Mayor Donald Plusquellic is behind the green investment plan. “This means that funding for projects that conserve energy, promote alternative fuels and clean our environment must be a priority,” he said. “Green jobs can’t be outsourced, and Ohio can be a leader in this area.”

Cities across Ohio have identified over 100 “shovel-ready” green economic development projects.

The mayor said, “I have pledged to work with Governor Strickland to ensure that Ohio and its cities receive a fair share of funds and that they are invested wisely.”

“If we continue with business as usual, dirty energy and highways to nowhere, we will be laying the groundwork for decades of increased carbon pollution,” said Gomberg. “Green infrastructure means more and better jobs now, as well as less global warming pollution, fewer asthma attacks from air pollution, more clean lakes and rivers for drinking water, swimming and fishing, and more secure energy in the long term.”

Images is of a wind turbine being installed by Canadian company Entegrity Wind Systems outside a calendar maker’s Pike Township facility. Image by indywriter on flickr under the creative commons license.