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Interesting Idea: A New Bank that Will Finance Massive National Clean Energy Initiatives

Hold onto your hats, folks, Congress is asking for another few billion. This one might be worth it, though: Today in D.C., Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, introduced a little something called the Green Bank Act of 2009. Simply put, it would mean the creation of a tax-exempt national..


Hold onto your hats, folks, Congress is asking for another few billion. This one might be worth it, though: Today in D.C., Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, introduced a little something called the Green Bank Act of 2009. Simply put, it would mean the creation of a tax-exempt national bank where wind farms, say, or smart grids would go for financing.Why do we need such a thing? Couple arguments: One is that there is growing concern that investing in clean energy will take a backseat to the status quo until we're able to come up for air, recessionally speaking. And since that could be years away, and we don't have years to clean up our acts, this could help push clean energy initiatives forward.(Responding to an email from us, Bridgett Frey, from the Van Hollen's office, explained that that's part of the impetus: "The Congressman is very clear that we need to transition from a carbon based economy to a clean energy economy, and the Green Bank will make that transition happen faster.")Interesting! The other things we know about the Act, which we perused just now, is that it would provide an initial capitalization of $10 billion through the issuance of Green Bonds by the Department of Treasury, with a maximum authorized limit of $50 billion in Green Bonds outstanding at any one time. Its board would be made up of members of Obama's cabinet or their designees, and that it would operate with tight regulation and transparency.There's been very little talk about this so far, though a January Washington Post editorial had this to say:"Rather than pick and choose technologies or individual projects to back, as would the green bank, Congress could pass legislation that would guarantee a gradual increase in the price of greenhouse-gas-emitting fuels. Business would get the price signal it needs to invest in clean technologies; consumers would change their behavior to make those new businesses viable. And the federal government could get out of the business of picking winners and losers in renewable energy."I hardly see this as an either-or situation. A Green Bank wouldn't make increased pricing on unclean energy redundant, and vice versa.It remains to be seen if this thing has legs, so in the mean time, we put it to you: What are some other arguments for or against?
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