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Revitalizing Urban America with the New Energy Economy

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In the two articles below Linda Schade and Kevin Zeese make the case that the new energy economy -- the green economy -- is the key to urban america's come back.  In fact, as the realities of expensive oil and climate change hit the U.S. is going to have to move to more local economies, more densly populated urban centers, return of suburban land to agriculture and greater mass transit.  This transition will be an investment that pays off in the creation of new jobs, new industries and a more liveable and healthier environment.

Let’s build a green Baltimore

BALTIMORE - Baltimore’s best chance to reverse decades of urban decay is to embrace the new energy economy. It will draw billions of dollars from private investors, government and philanthropy. The city took an important step in joining it when the Baltimore Sustainability Commission held its first meeting last month.

A standing-room-only crowd attended, demonstrating the vast interest in Baltimore going green. Audience members asked about green jobs, greening abandoned and dilapidated homes, rebuilding communities and creating new industry.

The commission understands the significant economic impact of a green Baltimore. Its six working groups, which cover all aspects of urban life, will consider the economic opportunities in what they promise will be a “premier sustainability plan.”

Clean Tech, which monitors financing of the new economy, reports that investment in solar will grow from an $11.2 billion industry in 2005 to $51.1 billion by 2015. Investment in four clean-energy technologies (solar, wind, hydrogen and biofuels) is projected to increase from $40 billion in 2005 to $167 billion within the coming decade. Private philanthropy is already investing more than $10 billion annually on climate change.

In 2007 the federal government’s Green Jobs Act authorized $125 million for an initial pilot project for green jobs. More was added this year, and the fund will grow to billions annually in the future. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both agree millions of green jobs are needed to respond to climate change.

Most green jobs will be created in the building and trades industries — retrofitting old buildings with products to make them efficient, installing solar panels to create electricity or putting in geothermal for heating and cooling. Similarly, new buildings will be built green, needing green workers to accomplish the task.

If the city commits to going green, there will also be opportunities for new economy entrepreneurs. A host of small businesses will meet the needs of green building. With tens of thousands of homes installing solar energy, a solar manufacturing plant in Baltimore would have a consumer base and could become the solar supplier for all of the East Coast. And the rooftops of industrial buildings could become solar power sites, providing clean energy and reducing the cost of electricity.

Baltimore’s schools can develop research programs for urban greening to help Baltimore, but also provide information for other cities. Schools can also develop training programs for green builders and tradesmen. Johns Hopkins University announced a sustainability initiative last summer.

Critical to a green Baltimore is transit. This begins with building livable and walkable communities. A walking street for pedestrians and bikers will get people out of their cars and could connect the waterfront to uptown areas. The city can encourage car co-ops and electric vehicles. And Baltimore’s mass transit will need to be on a faster track.

The transit plan needs to connect Baltimore to the region. The environment does not know artificial boundaries. A Bullet Train with speeds up to 150 mph or a Maglev Train, which goes up to 250 mph, would be a rapid connection between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and perhaps Columbia and BWI too. Not only would that reduce congestion and pollution on the highways, but it would make Baltimore a desirable living location for D.C. workers — especially with its less-expensive housing and new green environment.

Last November, the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore reported Baltimore is part of an emerging knowledge-based economy that ranks among the most prosperous regions in the country. Among the nation’s top metropolitan areas, metro Baltimore ranked first in income growth between 2000 and 2005, with a 24.1 percent increase. The new energy economy is a natural fit with the knowledge-based economy.

A green Baltimore will turn the urban blight of tens of thousands of abandoned homes and businesses into energy-efficient and energy-producing communities. It takes the underemployed person power of the city and creates green jobs that cannot be sent overseas. It reaps investment in the new energy economy to make Baltimore a more livable, cleaner and economically vibrant city.

To get involved, visit cleaner cleanergreenerbaltimore.org.

Kevin Zeese and Linda Schade are directors of the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics in Baltimore (freshaircleanpolitics.net).

Source: The Baltimore Examiner http://www.examiner.com/a-1443186~Kevin_Zeese_and_Linda_Schade__Let_s_build_a_green_Baltimore.html

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Kevin Zeese is co-chair of Come Home America, www.ComeHomeAmerica.US which seeks to end U.S. militarism and empire. He is also co-director of Its Our Economy, www.ItsOurEconomy.US which seeks to democratize the economy and give people greater (more...)
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