Green Project

FERC Commissioner Wellinghoff Joins Nov. 18 NDN Clean Infrastructure Event

NDN is pleased to announce that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff will join Congressman Jay Inslee, Google’s Dan Reicher, the Galvin Electricity Institute’s Kurt Yeager, and NDN Green Project Director Michael Moynihan on Tuesday, November 18 for:

Developing the 21st Century Economy: Investing in Clean Infrastructure:
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2322
Tuesday, November 18
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Click here to RSVP

This event should be an excellent and powerful conversation on clean infrastructure investment and grid modernization. For more information on the event or to RSVP, please click here or contact Courtney Markey.

Friday Buzz: More Narrative-Shaping Election Analysis

On Wednesday, I posted some of the influential election stories that featured NDN - if you haven't seen these, be sure to check them out, there are some really exellent pieces by some of the best journalists in the country. Since Wednesday, in addition to Simon's winning The Hill's election prediction contest, NDN has appeared in another big round of press:

First, Simon was quoted in a must-read piece by Ron Brownstein in the National Journal:

Barack Obama on Tuesday won the most decisive Democratic presidential victory in a generation largely by tapping into growing elements of American society: young people, Hispanics and other minorities, and white upper-middle-class professionals. That coalition of the ascendant—combined with unprecedented margins among African-Americans—powered Obama to a commanding victory over Republican John McCain, even though Obama achieved only modest and intermittent gains with the working-class white voters who provided the foundation of the Democratic coalition from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election in 1932 to Humphrey’s defeat 36 years later.

“Obama is reimagining a Democratic coalition for the 21st century,” says Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a Democratic group that studies electoral trend and tactics. “Democrats [are] … surging with all the ascending and growing parts of the electorate. He is building a coalition that Democrats could ride for 30 or 40 years, the way they rode the FDR coalition of the 1930s.”

Simon was also quoted in USA Today about about the changing demography of America and its significance for the future of politics:

Dramatic rises in Hispanic participation, support or both put Obama over the top in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. The trends were similar in Arizona and Texas, though the two states went for Republican John McCain. The group also made its presence felt in Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina.

"If the Republicans don't make their peace with Hispanic voters, they're not going to win presidential elections anymore. The math just isn't there," says Simon Rosenberg, head of the NDN, a Democratic group that studies Hispanic voters.

In addition, Simon discussed the importance of the Hispanic vote in Newsroom America, and Andres' analysis of Hispanics in this election was covered on NPR, in a DNC release, in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Latino Journal (and again here), Hispanic Trending, and the Latino Politics Blog.  

Simon also weighed in on "Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy" in a featured post on Huffington Post which was also picked up by OpenLeft.

In addition to the new demographics, Simon also talked about the use of new technology and media. He spoke to both how Obama used technology to win, and how he will use it to govern. From a piece in the Washington Times:

The campaign won't say whether the BarackTV and live-streamed events will continue after the inauguration, but all signs point to a revolutionized way of White House communication with America and the world.

"The most interesting thing to watch will be what do they and how do they reinvent the way a president speaks to the American people," said Simon Rosenberg of the liberal think tank NDN and a veteran of the Clinton White House.

"There's no doubt this is going to be more of a YouTube presidency than a fireside chat presidency," he said. "President Obama will be reinventing the relationship between the president and the American people using these new tools."

Simon gave similar analysis in the National Journal's Daily Tech Dose, Wired, and Digital Graffiti.

In terms of general election analysis, Simon talked about the likely governing philosophy of an Obama administration in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Times

New NDN Fellows Michael Hais and Morley Winograd were featured in the Post-Bulletin about the Millennial vote. Michael had an essay in Grist about the opportunities for the new administration to invest in clean infrastructure and clean energy. Finally, Rob talks about the economic challenges facing the new administration in the AP, Accountancy Age, and the Irish Left Review.

The Clean Opportunity

The historic victory of Barack Obama last night and increased majorities for Democrats in the House and Senate create a huge opportunity to build a high productivity, low carbon economy.  The last eight years have been lost economic years  The rare exceptions in the form of the housing and financial markets have now, of course, imploded.  The silver lining to the crash, however, is that it has cleared the way for a new round of economic growth built on new economic policies.  And if the right lessons are learned, with new leadership in place, the next round can be one of real engineering, not financial engineering, high paid jobs, not low paid ones, and inclusive, broadbased growth, not speculative fortunes for a few.

The number one priority of the United States must be to raise the real incomes of the middle class.  To do that, however, we must accomplish a variety of things at once that include creating new high paying jobs to replace old ones that have moved overseas, taming energy costs, and creating a modern, high efficiency plant and infrastructure to undergird higher productivity and our future prosperity.

Fortunately, as President Elect Obama has joined NDN in arguing, clean energy has the ability to address many of our economic problems at once.  For this reason, President Elect Obama has indicated that he believes clean energy must be a key priority next year.  At NDN, we are rolling up our sleeves to embark on this economic journey with him.

In the short term, spending on clean infrastructure--to modernize the grid, weatherize homes and buildings, and upgrade transportation--has the ability to jumpstart the economy.  The long backlog of infrastructure projects means that many are teed up and ready to go.  There is a short lead time between appropriating money for infrastructure and shovels in the ground, and infrastructure investments, because they occur in the local economy, have a high multiplier effect.

Second, investments in clean energy have the potential to create millions of high paying jobs, many of which can go to people without extensive education.  Because these jobs cannot be done overseas, and are either inherently domestic or have a high technology component, there is reason to expect them to be high paying.

Third, investments in clean energy will pay long term dividends in taming our volatile energy costs.  Even though oil costs have fallen, the virtual destruction of the American auto industry as a result of the twin blasts of soaring gas prices this summer and the credit implosion, shows that we cannot afford this sort of volatility in a critical commodity.  Meanwhile, the underlying trend of energy prices remains upwards. 

Fourth, investments in clean energy and infrastructure will benefit our environment and the environment of our children.  The costs of climate change in the form of erratic weather and rising water levels have already been considerable and may increase.  We cannot afford not to make these investments.

Clearly, clean energy and clean infrastructure are ideas whose time has come.  As the new Administration takes form, we look forward to working closely with it and leaders in Congress to build a low carbon economy with the potential not only to jumpstart America's current ailing economy but also power prosperity for decades to come.

In coming days, we will be making a number of specific proposals for ways that the new Administration can move quickly to achieve these goals and realize the clean opportunity.

NDN: Week in Review

There's always a lot happening here at NDN, so in case you missed anything, here's what we've been up to in the last week:

NDN's Election Analysis - With the race drawing to a close, NDN has focused its political analysis this week. Simon had a popular essay on the Huffington Post last Friday: Keys to the Fall: Obama Leads, McCain Stumbles. Simon reprised this argument with a blog post on Saturday: Still No Evidence that McCain is in This Thing. Writing again on Monday, Simon speculated: Could This Be A Ten Point Race?

Yesterday, we released a compendium of NDN’s best political analysis from the past several years. These memos and essays cover the main arguments coming from NDN: The end of the conservative ascendancy and the dawn of a "new politics," the emergence of new voting groups like the Millennials and Hispanics, the power that a whole array of new media and technology tools are unleashing into our democracy, and old-fashioned number crunching and analysis on everything from the role of independents, the economy and video in the elections. We've also included some of our analysis from the election of 2006, a day that saw the end of the conservative era, and set the stage for tomorrow's election, which will mark the beginning of a new one.

Millennial Makeover Authors Join NDN as Fellows - NDN is excited to announce that Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, authors of the best-selling book Millennial Makeover, have joined NDN as Fellows. Morley and Mike are two of the most insightful and prescient interpreters of the profound demographic shifts taking place in our country today. NDN has a long history of working with Morley and Mike; they co-authored a seminal 2006 paper, "Politics of the Millennial Generation," for our affiliate, the New Politics Institute, and have spoken at several NDN events, including one in March about the Millennial transformation of American politics. They are an important and tremendously impressive addition to the NDN Team. To read bios of Morley and Mike, please click here.

NDN has long argued that Millennials, along with Hispanics, are becoming core elements of a new, sustainable 21st century progressive coalition. To learn more about how these demographics are changing the face of American politics, read our reports, "Hispanics Rising II" and "The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation."

NDN Breaking Through - NDN has been a major player in shaping the narrative surrounding the 2008 election. Here's a recap of our press from the last few weeks.

Simon's election analysis was recently featured in the Financial Times (11/4), the Arizona Republic (11/4), and The Hill (11/3), on NPR (11/4/08), and in DemFromCT's daily poll roundup on DailyKos (11/1), which linked to his front-page Huffington Post (10/31) article, as well as in Newsday (10/27), the Arizona Republic (10/26), and the Huffington Post (10/28, again). He was quoted in the VIBE cover story, "The Tipping Point" (10/14) about the historic implications of the rise of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Dan Balz quoted Simon in the Washington Post after the third and final presidential debate (10/16). Simon also provided analysis of the election in the Independent (10/22), Reuters (10/22, as well as here on 10/17), and in several more featured posts on the Huffington Post (here, 10/21, here, 10/22, and here, 10/17). His election commentary also aired on radio stations across the country (10/22), and he was featured on WAMU's "Power Breakfast." Finally, Andres was featured in the Wall Street Journal (10/31) speaking about the increasing importance of early voting.

Our work on Hispanic issues has garnered widespread attention in the last few weeks. Our recent polling on immigration reform was featured in a front page article in the Wall Street Journal (11/1). Ron Brownstein quoted Simon about demographic shifts on MSNBC's "Road to the White House." Simon hit on similar themes involving the Hispanic electorate and the country's changing electoral map in the San Francisco Chronicle (10/26), Bloomberg (10/26), the San Francisco Chronicle (10/13), Bloomberg (10/17), and Hispanic Trending (10/9). Andres also talked about the importance of the Hispanic electorate in the Latino Journal (10/12), and our recent immigration poll of battleground states was featured in a diary on DailyKos (10/16).

On the green front, Michael was featured in the Council on Foreign Relations (10/30) discussing energy prices and cutting carbon emissions, and had a featured post about dealing with climate change in a troubled economy in the Huffington Post's Green section (10/22). Rob was featured in Grist (10/28) speaking about clean infrastructure and a second economic stimulus.

NDN also remained a strong voice on the economy: Rob was quoted recently in a big story in the New York Times (10/22) and the International Herald-Tribune (10/21) about the Treasury backing the consolidation of banks, was featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer (10/14), and had this excellent quote in the Washington Times (10/17).

Finally, NDN also made several TV appearances recently. Our event with Simon and Joe Trippi was broadcast on C-SPAN, Simon went on BBC World News to discuss the election (relevant section begins at 1:40), and Andres appeared on several Nevada TV channels, including Fox and ABC, condemning illegal voter suppression tactics targeting Hispanic voters.

NDN Buzz: Weekend Edition

With the elections just two days away now, it was a very busy week here at NDN. Yesterday, our recent polling on immigration reform was featured in the lead article in the Wall Street Journal, an excellent piece by Jonathan Weisman:

Between 2000 and this year, the Hispanic electorate will have doubled, to 12% of voters, according to Census data and NDN, a Democratic group that studies the electorate. That growth has been concentrated in once-Republican states, not only in the Mountain West but in the South. By 2006, Hispanics represented 31% of voters in New Mexico, 13% in Nevada, 11% in Florida and 8% in Colorado.

President Bush and his political team were able to ride that wave, nearly doubling the GOP's share of the Latino vote from 21% in 1996 to 40% in 2004, according to exit polls. Then came 2006 and the Republican Party embrace of get-tough legislation on illegal immigration, followed by Republican efforts to kill bipartisan bills to stiffen border enforcement and provide illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

In 2006, Republican support among Hispanics fell to 30%. Even Sen. McCain, who co-authored the bipartisan immigration legislation, does not appear able to reverse the trend. An NDN poll in August, when Sens. Obama and McCain were virtually tied in the polls, found Sen. Obama leading among Colorado Hispanics 56% to 26% and Nevada Hispanics 62% to 20%.

Simon hit on similar themes involving the Hispanic electorate and the country's changing electoral map in the San Francisco Chronicle and Bloomberg. His election analysis was also featured in DemFromCT's daily poll roundup on DailyKos, which linked to his front-page Huffington Post article, as well as in Newsday, the Arizona Republic, and the Huffington Post (again).

Andres was also featured in the Wall Street Journal speaking about the increasing importance of early voting, Michael was featured in the Council on Foreign Relations discussing energy prices and cutting carbon emissions, and Rob was featured in Grist speaking about clean infrastructure and a second economic stimulus.

Finally, aside from the print and Web media, NDN also made several TV appearances last week. Our event with Simon and Joe Trippi was broadcast on C-SPAN, Simon went on BBC World News to discuss the election (relevant section begins at 1:40), and Andres appeared on several Nevada TV channels, including Fox and ABC, condemning illegal voter suppression tactics targeting Hispanic voters. 

EVENT: Nov. 18. 12pm - Accelerating the Development of a 21st Century Economy: Investing in Clean Infrastructure

At this critical moment in our nation’s history, as Congress considers a second stimulus and a new Administration prepares to set forth its economic priorities, there is a crying need for proposals that address America’s immediate economic distress but also our long-term economic challenges.  Infrastructure investments are gaining attention as one way to create jobs and stimulate the economy in the short term while also creating the basis for future prosperity.  

However, U.S. infrastructure, already outdated, has come under new pressure from the combined challenges of climate change and rising energy prices.  From our transportation network to our homes and office buildings to our electrical grid, America’s physical plant was not built for high cost or volatile energy.  As we face up to the competitive demands of the 21st century, it is clear that old, energy-inefficient infrastructure must be repaired, upgraded, or retired and replaced with a new, clean infrastructure to meet the needs of the coming low-carbon economy.  

NDN believes that innovative clean infrastructure proposals like modernizing and upgrading our electrical grid, investing in next generation broadband technologies, greening the federal government, creating a gigawatt of solar power on government buildings, retrofitting and weatherizing homes and buildings, taking old, gas guzzling cars off the road and replacing them with new fuel efficient vehicles--and creating a new clean infrastructure bank to help fund clean energy projects--have the potential to create jobs in the short term and also address our long term economic challenges.

InsleeTo advance discussion on clean infrastructure and clean technologies, NDN’s Green Project is pleased to announce a Tuesday, November 18, event on Capitol Hill with Congressman Jay Inslee. Congressman Inslee is a leader on energy and electrical grid issues and sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on Natural Resources, and on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. He is also co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition’s Energy Task Force. NDN and Congressman Inslee will be joined by Dan Reicher,’s Director for Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, and Kurt Yeager, the Executive Director of the Galvin Electricity Institute.  Please join us for:

Accelerating the Development of a 21st Century Economy: Investing in Clean Infrastructure
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2322
Tuesday, November 18
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Click here to RSVP

A Modest Proposal

As the U.S. auto companies frantically search for ways to stave off bankruptcy, an interesting bit of news surfaced yesterday: Exxon Mobil's profit in the last quarter was the highest of any company ever in history, $14.83 billion. The company is on track to make $50 billion or so this year.

To put this in perspective, GM is currently seeking about $10 billion from the government to enable it to merge with Chrysler, which GM says is vital to its survival. What used to be the world's largest automaker is selling almost one million fewer cars than several years ago. GM is also seeking to draw down a $25 billion loan from the government designed to let it retool for more fuel efficient cars to help it weather the crisis. 

Here are a few proposals to enable GM and the other automakers survive:

  • Exxon Mobil might put up the $10 billion needed by GM and Chrysler to merge
  • Exxon Mobil could also lend GM the $25 billion it is seeking from the government
  • Exxon Mobil might just buy GM
  • Exxon Mobil might buy the entire U.S. auto industry.

There was a time when the oil companies and the auto companies were partners. In many ways, that marriage made modern America as each provided a complementary piece of the buildout of the American dream. In teaming up with the oil industry, the auto makers spurned Thomas Edison's electricity industry, which survived supplying power for lights, buildings and homes.

However, the relationship between the oil industry and the automakers has gotten a bit out of whack. One might even call it abusive.

The auto companies are beginning to look to the utilities as suppliers of their energy but, if Exxon Mobil cannot step up to the plate, perhaps they should move a bit faster.

It remains to be seen if the utilities will treat the auto companies any more kindly than the oil companies have, but they probably can't treat them much worse.

NDN: Week in Review

There's always a lot happening here at NDN, so in case you missed anything, here's what we've been up to in the last week:

A Stimulus for the Long Run - Post-election, Congress will head back to Washington to consider another stimulus package. NDN Globalization Initiative Chair Dr. Robert Shapiro and Green Project Director Michael Moynihan have been weighing in on the need to create a package that jumpstarts the economy now and helps ensure future prosperity by working to create a low-carbon economy. In a recent essay, Shapiro argued for a “Stimulus for the Long Run” that invests in clean infrastructure, worker training, and technology. In a separate memo, Moynihan also made the case for Accelerating the Development of a 21st Century Economy: Investing in Clean Infrastructure. The bottom line: Congress has a limited amount of money to spend on a stimulus.

Election Forum with Joe Trippi and Simon Rosenberg - Yesterday, NDN hosted a special lunchtime Election Forum with NDN President Simon Rosenberg and Internet pioneer, top political strategist and New Politics Institute fellow Joe Trippi. Joe and Simon looked at this remarkable election cycle and also beyond November 4 to the next Administration. For more information and photos from the event, please click here.

NDN Countdown to Election 2008 - With less than a week to go before Election Day, the NDN team continued to weigh in on issues ranging from swinging poll numbers to donation-fueled shopping sprees to early voting. With the media reporting U.S. Sen. Barack Obama with anywhere from a double-digit to a single-digit lead over U.S. Sen. John McCain, Simon asked, "Is McCain Playing to Win?"

Simon's essay echoes what he and the NDN team have been saying for several weeks: we may see an uptick in McCain's numbers as the race enters the final days, but that's because the Arizona senator is gaining ground he already should have held. It's not a sign of McCain's strength; rather, it's a sign of his weakness and disappointing campaign that many in the GOP base are only now coming home. For more on the final days of the campaign, check out this report from yesterday's Newsday, which quotes Simon.

Simon also predicted that increasingly, we will start to hear quiet talk of realignment, blowout, rout, coattails and a new political era. If the trends continue, we are headed toward a true blowout with the top of the Democratic ticket getting its highest vote share since 1964, Democrats having more ideological control of Washington since the mid 1960s and Democrats having the makings of a new very 21st century majority coalition they could ride for the next 30-40 years of politics.

And the other big news last week? What about Gov. Sarah Palin slapping her hockey Mom image right out of the rink by spending $150,000 on designer clothes and make up? Chalk it up the Republicans’ being completely out of touch with the economic struggles of everyday people. Melissa also took a look at an interview Palin did with James Dobson, the immensley popular leader of “Focus on the Family.” While Palin has apologized for some of her more divisive rhetoric as of late, she played to Dobson’s audience in this interview, even seeming to contradict McCain's more moderate stances on several issues, including stem cell research, choice and gay marriage. Is Palin thinking conservative base in 2012?

Back to the here-and-now, Andres Ramirez, Vice President of Hispanic Programs, spent the week focusing on the subject of early voting. With one in three registered voters expected to cast their ballots before November 4, Andres wrote about the record-breaking numbers of early voters, how many of those voters are experiencing very long waits to vote and efforts to prevent people from voting or purge newly registered voters from the rolls.

Keep People in Their Homes - For more than a month, NDN has been arguing that any government response to the financial crisis must include a central provision to keep people in their homes. Momentum to do just that grew last week, as FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair testified before Congress and presented a proposal to keep people in their homes, and the New York Times editorialized on the issue. The Washington Post reported that Bair’s proposal received a warm reception from lawmakers, a welcome sign that the federal government will soon provide necessary leadership in this effort. For more on NDN’s Keep People in Their Homes effort, click here.

Other NDN Thinking - There are no lack of victims from the meltdown of the financial markets and the oncoming economic recession. Will moving toward a low-carbon future, a top priority for NDN, be one of them? Our answer is “no.” Jake Berliner argued that Energy Reform Can Be an Economic Boon. Green Project Director Moynihan further buttressed Jake’s arguments in his essay, Climate Change: Next Steps in a Troubled Economy. Zuraya Tapia-Alfaro looked at Barack Obama’s latest Spanish-language ad about restoring the “American Dream,” following other Spanish-language TV and radio ads on education, health care, taxes, and more. She also wrote about immigration in the presidential race and how the next president can discuss immigration reform using an economic narrative during this time of economic crisis.

New Tools Feature: Go Mobile - In last week's New Tools Feature, TXT 2 GOTV, I highlighted a new study that shows the great bang-for-the-buck efficacy of text-based get-out-the-vote campaigns, which, on average, cost only $1.56 per vote. To learn more about using SMS messaging effectively, be sure to read our New Politics Institute's New Tools paper, Go Mobile Now. While texting has already had a real, measurable effect in this election cycle, and will be critical to getting out key voting blocs next Tuesday, the true potential of mobile-powered politics has yet to be tapped.

NDN Breaking Through - The new VIBE Magazine hit shelves last week. For the first time in its 15-year history, VIBE endorsed a candidate this month. Simon is quoted in the cover story, "The Tipping Point," about race in American politics and the historic implications of the rise of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

Simon also provided analysis of the election in the Independent, Reuters (and subsequently on Michael Moore's blog), and in two featured posts on the Huffington Post (here and here). His election commentary also aired on radio stations across the country, and he was featured on WAMU's "Power Breakfast": you can listen to the segment here:

Finally, Rob was quoted in a big story in the New York Times and the International Herald-Tribune about the Treasury backing the consolidation of banks, and Michael had a featured post about dealing with climate change in a troubled economy in the Huffington Post's Green section.

Obama: Clean Tech is Priority Number One Next Year

In an interview with Joe Klein in Time, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama showed that he gets it on the importance of investing in clean energy as an engine of economic growth.

Said Obama: "The engine of economic growth for the past 20 years is not going to be there for the next 20.  That was consumer spending...There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy....That's going to be my No.1 priority when I get into office." 

We are in total agreement with Senator Obama that clean energy can power prosperity for the next decade and beyond. The more you look into the promise of clean energy, the better its characteristics as a transformative industry able to serve as an engine of growth appear. 

First, because much of the work of retiring our old dirty infrastructure and building new clean, energy efficient infrastructure must occur domestically, investments in clean infrastructure should lead directly to new domestic jobs with a nice multiplier effect.

Second, many of the jobs in building new clean buildings and retrofitting old ones are by their very nature construction jobs that provide high wages even for those without extensive education.

Third, like information technology, clean technology is a new industry with the potential to create fortunes for entrepreneurs and high paying jobs for scientists, engineers and others that work at clean tech companies.  The US system of innovation is ideally suited to turn ideas into wealth and the money pouring into cleantech in Silicon Valley suggests this process is already underway.

Fourth, clean technology is also likely to have a strong manufacturing component.  The weight and physical size of many clean technology components from new building materials to solar panels has compelled Chinese firms, for example, to site their factories close to markets in the United States.  Clean energy thus is ideally suited to revive empty factories across Michigan, Ohio, Penssyvlania and America's once great manufacturing belt. 

All told, Senator Obama is spot on that clean energy must be a number one priority next year.  How refreshing it is and how transformative it will be to have new leadership in America focosued on real, not paper, economic growth.

Climate Change: Next Steps in a Troubled Economy

New York City -- The conventional wisdom is that the financial crisis has claimed yet another casualty in the form of meaningful action in the next year on climate change. According to this argument, putting a price on carbon in a down economy is a non-starter. What's more, collapsing oil prices have taken at least one reason for major action off the table. And lower oil prices, combined with difficulty in getting financing, may take its toll on the entire renewables sector. The argument runs like this: while the presidential candidates are still talking about action on energy, the most likely scenario is for the status quo to continue as the new President and the Congress cope with a recession next year. Today, for example, the Financial Times and the New York Times have articles on the collapse of the biofuels industry.  And even Thomas Friedman writes in his column that he's seen this movie before in the 1900s when lower oil prices led to an abandonment of alternative fuels and the re-addiction to foreign oil.

However, this conventional wisdom is wrong. A downturn does not mean that action on energy efficiency must end or make it more difficult. In fact, the reverse is true. A downturn is more reason than ever to move forward on clean energy investments. Moreover, as long as the climate continues to warm (and last year was the warmest on record), climate change will remain an issue, and this urgency is reflected in the timetable of the Copenhagen process.  Accordingly, the United States not only should, but must, move forward on a whole range of climate and energy related issues.

First, with a recession likely, with interest rates already at low levels and banks impaired in their ability to lend, fiscal policy will have to play a much larger role than in the last few cycles in getting the economy back on track. Any stimulus package, as I have argued and as Friedman endorses today, must have a major green component. That includes support for grid modernization, mass transit, weatherization and green construction. But it also might include a tax credit for the purchase of energy efficient appliances, a tax credit for energy efficient vehicles and, to help the beleaguered American auto industry, as suggested by Jack Hidary and Alan Blinder, a trade-in tax credit to take old gas guzzlers off the road.

Whether or not a stimulus package is accomplished, government needs to create the machinery to retire our energy inefficient infrastructure and replace it with low-carbon infrastrucutre. In this regard, it is vital that Congress move forward on proposals to create a clean infrastructure bank such as those put forward by Senators Dodd and Hagel and the New Democrats with respect to energy.

Second, while oil prices have fallen precipitously, the volatility of gas prices itself is unacceptable for a healthy economy. The long-term trend not only for oil, but for gas, coal and electricity is up. And remember that the OPEC cartel always has the ability to restrain production if prices drop too low.

Third, low energy prices mean that in some ways, it will now be easier to put a price on carbon than it was this summer when the market alone seemed to be raising prices.  A carbon credit or tax regime will quantify the social cost of carbon emissions, improving on signals that vary with the gyrations of the market.

Fourth, Copenhagen is coming in early 2009 and the United States needs to develop a coherent position on how to address climate change before then. The Wall Street Journal recently castigated Jason Grumet for suggesting to Bloomberg Radio that the EPA may, by default, end up regulating carbon. But this very well may happen if Congress does not address the climate issue.

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke recently made an interesting suggestion that the United States should negotiate directly with China to reduce carbon emissions. Together, the two countries account for 60% of the total carbon emissions. Given the high level of complementary interdependency between the United States and China, a bilateral framework may prove more effective than a multilateral one in moving China off its dime. This is an avenue for action that would not require comprehensive cap and trade legislation.

Congress should also move forward on a renewable electricity standard, accelerated depreciation for clean energy investments by corporations and by families

Most importantly, all of these actions on energy are vital to a comprehensive strategy to create a true 21st century economy, raise incomes and get America moving again.  Call it a "Clean Deal."  We can't (and don't want to) compete with the emerging economies on wages. Rather, the United States needs to lead the world in innovation and the development of clean energy technologies. This issue has emerged as a vital challenge of the 21st century.

Far from slowing down, action on climate and energy is heating up.  Next year we need to roll our sleeves up and get to work to begin building the low carbon, but high economy of the future.

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