By David J. Hayes
April 1, 2020
David J. Hayes is executive director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law. He was deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the Interior Department during the Obama and Clinton administrations.
The coronavirus pandemic has virtually shut down the U.S. economy. The lights remain on, however, at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, where the Trump administration is working to push through its radical reordering of our nation’s environmental and conservation priorities — pandemic or no.
For Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the novel coronavirus outbreak has emerged at an opportune time. After many false starts and embarrassing court defeats, the administration has moved on from its efforts to put off regulatory deadlines or not enforce existing rules. Now, agencies are racing to roll back environmental standards and privatize public lands before the election-year clock runs out. Their strategy is to plow forward regardless of the public health threat, working at a breakneck pace, undistracted by careful scientific deliberation or feedback from the public, which has been largely sidelined by the virus.
When the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals on April 3 what happened to jobs in March, we will likely discover that U.S. unemployment spiked faster than ever before. In four to six weeks, 10 million workers may lose their jobs, and that may only be the beginning.
But while in normal circumstances the unemployed can begin to look for new work, they are among the 100 million Americans being told to stay at hometo slow the spread of the coronavirus — and that number could triple to include most people in the country.
No war changed both behavior and economic conditions in the United States so drastically and so quickly.
Although no two crises are exactly alike, I learned valuable lessons about the right way to respond to a crisis as a member of the incoming Obama administration’s economic transition team, which had to deal with the government response to the 2008-09 financial crisis.
The Senate is expected to announce a coronavirus stimulus package soon, but the House still has time to apply hard-won lessons from the previous crisis. Before Congress throws a record amount of money at the current, and unprecedented, financial and healthcare emergency, it should slow down to take into account what the Obama team learned about the importance of helping the most people and businesses.
After the United States quashes the coronavirus, the hard work will be just beginning.
Millions of jobs will need to be created—and fast.
It’s why the creation of a National Climate Bank is more urgent than ever. That was the main message during the Coalition for Green Capital’s webinar. We were fortunate to have Rep. Debbie Dingell join us. She provided an update on efforts to stimulate the economy and underscored how a national climate bank is key to this effort.
Leaders of state green banks–which the national proposal is modeled after—outlined the success they have had. The banks have proven to be a quick and efficient way to distribute funds for clean energy and transportation infrastructure projects that create jobs. In fact, many of the banks received this initial funding from the 2009 Recovery Act during the last financial crisis.
The Connecticut Green Bank’s Bryan Garcia, Michigan Saves’ Mary Templeton and Florida’s SELF Doug Coward outlined the job impacts their banks have had and how the projects have reduced emissions.
If you missed the briefing, don’t worry. You can watch it here.
After the virus, we have to get America going again. To do that, we need jobs and as today’s briefing outlined, there are few better ways to do just that than build clean energy and transportation infrastructure.
The administration and Congress must act — but wisely. The place to start is the overwhelmed health care system.
The health care system like this hospital in Sarasota, Fla., needs urgent support.Eve Edelheit for The New York Times
All happy times are the same; all crises are different. Except one lesson is always the same: There always are two crises.
In all governmental responses to crises, leaders have to focus both on ending the immediate crisis and also on adopting ethical, practical methods of addressing the effects. This is the crisis for leaders.
The Covid-19 crisis really does threaten the American health care system’s ability to keep people safe.
The Trump administration could not have absolutely stopped the Covid-19 invasion. But it is hard to imagine any government doing a worse job to prepare for the event.
Coalition for Green Capital (CGC) Executive Director Jeffrey Schub joins My Climate Journey podcast to discuss how green banks finance clean energy investments in the U.S. and in developing nations.
New Jersey is taking the first step to create a green bank of its own. On Monday March 9, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from a wide range of parties to inform the design and formation of a new green financing mechanism.
The RFI is posted on NJEDA’s website, and is seeking responses by April 17, 2020.
This RFI marks the first concrete step taken by the Murphy Administration to kick-off the green bank formation process. Though there has been much work behind the scenes, and multiple recommendations in various reports to create such a financing mechanism, this begins the formal effort to launch the green bank.
“Investing in New Jersey companies that are deploying solutions to pressing clean energy challenges is not only critical for protecting our environment, but is also an opportunity to bolster our economy and create good jobs for New Jersey residents,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “This RFI is an important first step that will pave the way for us to create a Green Energy Fund that effectively channels public and private funding to achieve our bold clean energy goals.”
CGC Executive Director Jeffrey Schub said, “This RFI is a true milestone for New Jersey. After years of diligent work from leaders in and out of government, the wheels are now in motion to start the green bank. The timing could not be better, with a significant energy transition underway in the state, and potential green bank funds from a federal Climate Bank being considered in Congress. NJEDA is the right agency to lead this process, and the green bank community is here to support them.”
As CGC previously wrote, the idea of a NJ green bank has appeared across multiple reports and plans put forward by the state. The most recent public statement came two weeks ago with the release of the Governor’s budget. The proposal included using funding from the state’s Clean Energy Program to help launch the green bank.
More details on the RFI can be found here: RFI for Potential Green Financing Mechanism to be Established by the State of New Jersey.
Responses are due April 17, 2020, and can be email to: RFI-PotentialGreenFund@njeda.com.
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