Democrats announce plan to green the economy

US Democrats have unveiled an $825bn plan to stimulate the US economy, including proposals to spend billions of dollars on low carbon vehicles, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Their economic recovery Bill aims to ease the misery of the recession and create up to four million jobs.

The package includes plans for tax cuts, modernising infrastructure, helping people who have lost their jobs, and creating a greener economy.

Under the Democrats’ plan, $2bn would be dished out to support US manufacturers of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems, and a new $200m grant program would be set up to encourage electric vehicle technologies.

Federal, state and local governments would also begin replacing older vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles, and $300m of grants and loans will be dished out to state and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emissions, such as retrofitting exhaust systems on school buses.

Their plans have been echoed in the UK, where Government announced a new £250m funding package for low carbon vehicles.

The Democrat Bill also proposed pumping billions into modernising the power grid, making low-income households more energy efficient, and providing loans to renewable energy projects.

Another $2.4bn would be set aside for research into controversial carbon capture and storage technology.

Steny Hoyer, leader of the Democrats in the House, said: “The depth of our economic crisis means that the consequences of inaction are far worse, starting with double digit unemployment and even deeper deficits.

“A recovery package is needed to stop our economy’s downward spiral so that we may then address the underlying financial crisis.”

But speaking on US TV channel PBS’ Newshour programme, House Republican Leader John Boehner criticised the Bill’s plans to borrow and spend to resurrect the economy.

“It’s not the kind of spending, in my view, that will stimulate our economy, create jobs, and – even more importantly – preserve jobs that are out there today,” he said.

But environmental campaign group the Sierra Club has backed the Bill.

Executive director Carl Pope said: “This plan will ensure that millions of Americans will have the opportunity to join the workers of Cardinal Fastener in building the clean energy economy that will revitalise America and help end our dependence on fossil fuels once and for all.”

The final Bill is expected to be put to a vote in the House in the coming days.

Kate Martin

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