By Allie Bollman, Summer Intern
On June 13th, the Center for American Progress (CAP) issued a report titled, “300 Million Engines of Growth- A Middle-Out Plan for Jobs, Businesses, and a Growing Economy.” The report lays out a plan for economic progress, including investment and reform, and focuses on the necessity and importance of the middle class, or the 300 million engines. The report places a focus on clean and efficient energy for economic growth and prosperity, stating that, “capturing the energy opportunity by ensuring we have reliable sources of energy that are both sufficient and sustainable is a critical element of our strategy to grow the U.S. economy.”
In a 2009 report, “The Clean Energy Investment Agenda,” CAP outlined a three-pronged approach to encourage investment in clean energy:
- Demand through state-level renewable energy standards,
- Financing through tax credits and other tools, such as the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program, and
- Infrastructure such as workers trained for clean energy jobs.
This new report plans to follow the same approach more aggressively, with the goal of getting 35% of American electricity from renewables by 2035. To reach this goal, CAP’s key policy ideas are to:
- Institute a carbon tax, starting at $6.25/ton in 2013 and increasing to $25/ton by 2015, with a 5% increase each following year. Putting a price on carbon will make limiting pollution an investment and will also raise approximately $500 billion in funds over the next 10 years, $200 billion of which CAP proposes would go to research and development of clean energy technologies, their deployment, and international climate and energy commitments.
- Launch a clean energy investment program, which would include: $9 billion/year for both public and private R&D; extension of the wind energy production tax credit; and the launch of a green bank that would enable the deployment of clean energy.
- Launch 3 specific waste elimination programs:
- Home Star, a $6 billion rebate plan that provides homeowners with incentives to use more efficient appliances, insulation, windows, and other products/technologies.
- Building Star, a $6 billion plan to provide businesses with incentives to improve the efficiencies of commercial and multifamily residential buildings by leveraging $3-4 for every $1 spent in public money.
- Rural Star, a $4.9 billion loan plan to allow rural electric cooperatives to lend money to pay for building improvements that will save energy.
Additionally, CAP proposes to eliminate $4 billion in annual tax breaks for oil and gas companies and to create a future oil reduction technology fund to invest in R&D for clean vehicles. By using all of these policies, CAP aims to quadruple the American share of renewable electricity by 2020 (to 12%) and to cut American oil imports in half. By doing this, American reliance will shift away from volatile energy sources and focus on long-term energy sustainability, as the acceleration of climate change and the depletion of fossil-fuel resources put more and more stain on our current energy sources. In 2011, the United States invested more money in clean energy than any other country in the world, but in order to maintain this leading position and continue progress, more steps need to be taken in continuing the transition to clean energy.
Read the full report here.