At least the coronavirus stimulus package isn’t bailing out the oil industry

After more than a week of squabbling over what should go into
the third coronavirus relief package, the White House and Senate
leaders reached a compromise on Tuesday night. And while no
climate-friendly provisions made it into the $2 trillion stimulus
bill, it wasn’t necessarily bad news for the planet either.

In the days leading up to this near-final bill, much of the
debate centered around Democrats’ attempts to include certain
green provisions, like support for the
struggling
renewable energy industry, and a
requirement
that a bailout for airlines be contingent on
emission reduction promises.

The fight broke down into a
sandbox tussle on Monday when Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of
delaying relief for hospitals and struggling Americans in their
pursuit of the Green New Deal, while Democrats argued that if the
government was going to bail out the oil industry by purchasing $3
billion of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, why not help
other hurting energy industries, too? The clash seems to have ended
in a draw, as neither the oil bailout nor any clean energy or
emissions reduction measures are in
the most recent version of the bill
. The only thing that stuck
was
$32 billion for the airline industry
— no strings
attached.

In the midst of the negotiations, a coalition of scientists,
academics, and advocates from the environment, justice, and labor
movements penned a letter to Congress with their own “menu
of solutions
” to make the stimulus a win-win for the economy
and the environment.

The letter criticizes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
of 2009, the stimulus package signed by President Obama during the
Great Recession, for centering companies over workers, and it
offers almost 100 policy interventions to improve on that model. If
you’re someone who thought the Green New Deal sounded nice but
weren’t sure what it meant in practice, I encourage you to check
this letter out. The proposals are highly specific and cover
everything from creating jobs to reducing emissions to shoring up
communities that are vulnerable to the effects of climate
change.

The ideas range from the familiar, like creating green jobs in
clean energy, construction, the food system, transportation, and
manufacturing, to the creative, like expanding funding for the
National Endowment for the Arts to support out-of-work artists and
makers. There are layers of proposals within each of the umbrellas
I just mentioned, like providing direct funding to transit
authorities to help them through the slowdown, changing zoning
regulations to promote dense development, providing no-interest
loans for local governments to build parks, supporting indigenous
farming practices and protecting native seeds, and ending fossil
fuel subsidies and directing those funds to help workers transition
to new jobs.

The letter’s authors aren’t the only ones thinking about how
the country could bounce back from coronavirus while getting ahead
on climate change. Grist staff
spoke with seven experts
with more ideas for a green stimulus.
While most called for short-term measures similar to the ones
Democratic senators fought for, in the long term many wanted to see
major investments in clean energy infrastructure with a focus on
hiring from and serving under-resourced communities and communities
of color.

Even though the $2 trillion stimulus that Congress is voting on
this week is void of consideration for the planet, experts are

saying
it will probably only get us through the next few
months. That means many of these ideas could still come into play
in future legislation.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
At least the coronavirus stimulus package isn’t bailing out the
oil industry
on Mar 26, 2020.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
At least the coronavirus stimulus package isn’t bailing out the oil industry