Dems to Push ‘Green’ Policy with Stimulus Spending, GOP Says

By Josiah Ryan | January 8, 2009 | 7:02 PM EST

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

( - Democrats may try to use the stimulus spending package Congress is crafting this week to impose unwanted “green” policies on the American public, Republican lawmakers told at the Capitol on Thursday.
Congressional Democrats, however, say that while making America more environmentally friendly is one of the major objectives of stimulus spending, they intend to advocate green initiatives rather than force them on the American public.
“I am quite sure Democrats are going to use the stimulus to force green initiatives,” Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told “I am quite sure that’s going to happen. You can call it anything you like, but it’s not stimulus, if that’s the case. It’s making policy and making policy in a way that you are not very deliberative about it.”
Since his election in November, President-elect Barack Obama, the Democratic leadership, and some Republican leaders have promoted a stimulus plan that is projected to cost between $775 billion and $1.3 trillion. They contend that the stimulus spending is needed to jolt the economy out of the recession.
Though details of the plan have not been unveiled, Democratic leaders have indicated they want much of the spending to go towards environment-friendly infrastructure and technology.
“It’s about a smart, modern grid to be able to transmit the new, renewable energy – wind, solar, biofuels, the rest,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Dec. 12. “It’s about a very modern approach to building the infrastructure of America.”
Democrats who gathered at a workshop for new members of Congress sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said they do not know exactly how the details of the stimulus will work, but they hope to “advocate” green technologies with the money rather than force them on the American people.
When asked if it was right to spend stimulus money to spread green policies in communities that may not want them, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who serves on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said: “I am just advocating trying to do it right. We will see what happens.”
But Blumenauer further said that a major goal of stimulus expending will be to bolster green technologies in America.
“A wide number of people have been very clear about what the priorities should be,” said Blumenauer. “There is already evidence, both in terms of President Obama making this the theme of his campaign and Speaker Pelosi who has made protecting the planet and energy independence at the forefront of her work.
“The legislative process is complex – there are lots of things going back and forth – but I am confident that there will be significant investments in transit, in green energy,” he said.
Freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) said that he is looking forward to the opportunity to “swing for the fences” on green technology with the stimulus package.
“I think in this economic challenge we face it is clearly the time for us to swing for the fences on energy independence and sustainability,” he said.
But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also said she thinks Democrats may try to use stimulus spending for environmental purposes.
“I am concerned that they [Democrats] might possibly use it to create policy as opposed to the mission here, which is to stimulate the economy and pull us out of this recessionary period that we are in,” said Murkowski.