Today is the first Earth Day of the Obama presidency, and that carries a special significance for the White House in light of the President’s goal to create a clean energy economy that can serve as a pillar of our recovery. Green jobs were a central focus of the Recovery Act
, and the President’s proposed budget
will also help ensure that new industries around energy efficiency and renewables will become part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come. Needless to say, making a big move towards energy independence is much more than a fringe benefit.
The President will be speaking broadly about those goals with workers at Trinity Structural Towers in Iowa, the former Maytag plant which now houses a green manufacturing facility producing wind towers. But we also asked Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the Council on Environmental Quality
, to walk us through a local player in the emerging clean energy economy, as just one example out of thousands of what the future holds:
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But that’s just the beginning for the White House and federal agencies, and we will keep a running log all day as things come in. For just a few examples: Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who testified in the Senate yesterday
on green jobs training for workers, will join CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley to shine a light on the important role that women will play in our green economy at a roundtable with 35 representatives from every imaginable sector of the economy. Several members on the cabinet will also be testifying on the Hill today in special hearings. Interior Secretary Salazar, meanwhile, will turn his focus to the National Parks and nearly $750 million in investments they got to create jobs through the Recovery Act. And of course the EPA has been running their photo and video
projects all month, with much more to come today.
Check back throughout the day.
Finishing off the day, we have the Interior Department, which was already busy celebrating National Parks Week
, holding a rooftop press conference with Secretary Salazar announced an investment of $750 million in the national park system
under the Recovery Act. The Secretary also gives us this message on the connection between America's natural beauty and America's economic future:
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5:43: The USDA expands on "the People's Garden"
: "The People's Garden is designed to provide a sampling of USDA's efforts throughout the world as well as teach others how to nurture, maintain and protect a healthy landscape. If practiced, these garden concepts can be the general public's, government's, or business' contribution to providing healthy food, air, and water for people and communities... Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan officially kicked off the Earth Day event at the Whitten Building with Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Brings Plenty who performed a traditional song and planted seeds at a ceremonial Three Sisters Garden to celebrate American Indians' contribution to American agriculture. Merrigan led volunteers and USDA staffers in planting vegetables, herbs and flowers to complete the first phase of The People's Garden." Get more background here
The State Department's DipNote blog
is churning out Earth Day posts faster than you can read them. For just a taste, Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern
talks on video about the "Focus the Nation" Clean Energy Town Halls. The Question of the Week
is posed: "How Should Western Hemisphere Nations Leverage Combined Resources To Address Shared Challenges?" And Belinda Yong
, an intern at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, claims her post is "arguably, the greenest diplomatic facility overseas of any country in the world." Sounds like a challenge.
12:10: The President's Proclamation.
Can we still celebrate Earth Day even if we are not actually on Earth? Yes, we can.
Also download the free NASA Earth Day, 2009 poster (6.7 MB pdf)
The Energy Department goes all-in. Firstly, just go to Energy.gov
and see what you see. Secondly, Vice President Biden announces $300 Million in Recovery Act Funds for the Clean Cities Program
, an Energy Department-led pilot program to expand the nation’s fleet of clean, sustainable vehicles and the fueling infrastructure necessary to support them. Thirdly, Secretary Chu joins Labor Secretary Solis in an op-ed
run in several papers today on building the American Clean Energy Economy: "We have an enormous, urgent environmental and economic task ahead of us, and it is one that we have ignored for far too long. If we are going to create clean energy industry jobs in this country, break the stranglehold that foreign oil has on our economy and punish the polluters who are devastating our natural resources, then we’ve got to be honest about the difficult tasks and tough choices ahead. It’s going to mean telling the special interests that their days of dictating energy policy in this country are over. It’s going to mean refusing to settle for the status quo and the same ineffective policies that have held us back for over 30 years, created price shocks and fostered energy dependence. This president is committed to tackling these challenges head on to create a clean energy policy that works for all Americans, so that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren not just a stronger economy, but a cleaner planet."
10:05: Pick 5!
The EPA rolls out their feature Earth Day program with a productive idea worth clicking through for. There are a lot of tips floating around on little things you can do in your own life to reduce your impact on the environment, but not every lifestyle tweak will fit every lifestyle. So the EPA provides us a little focus -- take a look at their list of 10 and pick 5 that work for you.
First installment. The US Coast Guard has an Earth Day Twitter campaign
today talking about the various ways they're trying to preserve the environment while safeguarding the open seas, including plenty of green building and energy. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack marked the day by announcing 56 communities in 34 states will get $144.3 million in loans and grants for infrastructure improvements around water availability and quality -- see the list