President Barack Obama recently claimed that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created or saved an estimated 150,000 jobs over the past few months, including new green jobs. According to the President, Americans have been put to work “…building solar panels and wind turbines, making homes and offices more energy efficient.” Yet details about how many green jobs have been created by federal economic stimulus spending remain sketchy at the moment. What information is currently available does seem to indicate that at least some of the stimulus spending over the past few months has gone towards projects and programs capable of creating green jobs. Using information found on Recovery.gov and related government websites, I have compiled a brief list of programs that capable of creating green jobs that have received stimulus funds to date.
Department of Housing and Urban Development Assisted House Stability and Energy and Green Retrofit Investments:
Total Amount Paid Out: $205,370,367
Department of Agriculture: Natural Resources Conservation
Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations: Total Amount Paid Out - $2,200,517
Watershed Rehabilitation Act: Total Amount Paid Out - $212,077
Description: Will fund projects that provide the greatest public and environmental benefits through floodplain easements and investments in watershed infrastructure improvements. Watershed rehabilitation projects will mitigate the risks of failure and threats to public safety posed by aging flood control infrastructure. Potential projects are being evaluated and specific information will be posted as implementation proceeds.
Department of Education:
Impact Aid: Total amount paid out - $39,517,011
Description: Awards must be used for construction activities, including the preparation of drawings and specifications for school facilities; erecting, building, acquiring, altering, remodeling, repairing, or extending school facilities; and inspecting and supervising the construction of school facilities. Criteria for project selection includes: “The extent to which projects would use energy-efficient and recyclable materials.”
Department of Energy:
Defense Environmental Cleanup: Total Amount Paid Out – $10,989,818
Description: N/A Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Total Amount Paid Out - $9,871,909
Description: Stimulus money will be used to fund EPA’s Biomass Projects, Clean Cities FY09 Petroleum Reduction Technologies for the Transportation Sector, Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, Geothermal Technologies Program, High Penetration Solar Development, Large Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility, National Laboratory Call for Foundational Photovoltaics and Concentrating Solar Power Research Development, Solar Market Transformation, State Energy Program Formula Grants, Transportation Electrification, Weatherization Assistance Program Formula Grants, Wind Energy Consortia between Institutions of Higher Learning and Industry
Non-defense Environmental Cleanup: Total Amount Paid Out - $152,210
Department of the Interior:
Resource Management: Total Amount Paid Out $25,581
Operation of the National Park System: Total Amount Paid Out: $151,131
Water and Related Resources: Total Amount Paid Out: $190,095
Environmental Protection Agency:
Total Amount Paid Out: $4,052,986
Description: Programs funded by stimulus package include the EPA’s Brownfields Program, Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, Leaking Underground Storage Tanks Program, National Clean Diesel Campaign, Superfund Hazardous Waste Cleanup Program
This list is not meant to be comprehensive. The American Recovery and Relief Act provides for $787 billion in economic stimulus spending over the next few years, according the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. A total of about $125 billion in funding has been made available to federal agencies to date, according to Recovery.gov. A little over $35 billion of this funding has been spent by federal agencies thus far. The list contains only those projects and programs that have received a portion of this actual spending. It does not contain a number of key programs capable of creating green jobs that have been designated for funding in the future.
The Recovery.gov website is currently focused on providing the public with information about how stimulus funds are being allocated by category, state, and government agency. Brief overviews of some of the programs that have already received funding can be found on related government websites, but few details about these programs are available. What is available is a number of Excel spreadsheets that provide information about how much of the stimulus money federal agencies have “paid out” so far. Wading through these spreadsheets is a cumbersome task.
The Council of Economic Advisors has projected that federal stimulus spending will create .7 million jobs in 2009, 3 million in 2010, 2.5 million in 2011, and .7 million in 2012. While these projections provide reason for optimism, there is a great need for greater transparency as more information about the actual impacts of stimulus spending become available. The Recovery.gov site provides little hard evidence to back up President Obama’s claim that 175,000 jobs have been created by stimulus spending so for. Nor does it provide any information about the number or types of green jobs that have been created by stimulus spending.
To some extent, this is understandable. The American Recovery and Relief Act was signed into law on February 19, 2009. It takes time for any law to be implemented, and the government has acted relatively quickly in beginning to allocate and distribute funding. Information posted on Recovery.gov indicates that the site will contain more details about stimulus spending and its impacts as more information becomes available over the coming months and years. It is important that the Obama administration follows through on these promises. Projections do not replace hard, verifiable data. David Anderson is the author of the blog the Green Jobs Report