Thursday, August 27, 2009

Follow The Green

The picture is coming into focus. We are past the point of promising. The opposition has launched a critique:

[Van Jones, a Bay Area activist and author who would be brought into the Obama administration as green jobs czar in March,] talks up the need for a "green New Deal" that will "help our Rust Belt cities blossom as Silicon Valleys of green capital." But scroll through the websites and reports of the many organizations with which he's been connected, and one begins to suspect that this "green" commitment is less about nature than about welfare--for inner-city residents without the skills or knowledge to compete in a 21st-century economy, and for the professional poverty organizations that collect the money for government job-training programs.

That's in The American Spectator and the intent is to expose the green jobs charge as folly. Boondoggle or not, the money is in the pipeline. A lot of it will land in Tim Ryan's and Jason Altmire's Tech Belt. Pittsburgh is already basking in the glow of President Obama's love. Thus, the GOP is eager to find the flaws in the White House plan. This is a done deal.

The emerging US energy policy narrative will translate into a lot of jobs and, as fiscal conservatives would complain, federal tax dollars for Cleveburgh. Green doesn't just mean cutting edge alternatives. It also includes nuclear power and natural gas:

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama proclaimed that the US could "become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy".

His Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, is a highly respected environmentalist and the Obama administration sees natural gas as a transition fuel that can help lead this country towards a new clean economy.

Many in rural Pennsylvania are also optimistic. The gas industry is leasing land from local owners - there is good money to be made. But not everyone is happy.

That last sentence offers important caution. There are serious environmental concerns. But it also speaks to the scale of investment. The gas rush is on, at a time when prices are at all-time lows. As more energy demand shifts to natural gas, and it will, the fuel will become more expensive and profitable. This is why Obama is going all in on Pittsburgh. And this is why V&M Star is investing $1 billion in its Youngstown plant. The money is beginning to follow all the rhetoric.

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