WASHINGTON, DC – January 13, 2016 – In his final State of the Union Address last night, President Obama highlighted the need for all Americans to move beyond divisiveness and work together towards common goals. In response, Green America, the nation’s leading green economy organization, is calling for U.S. leaders to more rapidly pursue green economy goals that Americans of all walks of life support and understand are vital to the economic future of the country and themselves.
“The President is right that we need to leave divisiveness behind us and work together to create a better future for all,” said Fran Teplitz, executive co-director for business, investing, and policy of Green America. “And the best way to do that is by growing the green economy in the U.S. to create green jobs, energy, finance and food to support generations to come.”
“The American people are united in their desire to create more clean energy, improve the safety of our foods, and create better jobs for all,” said Todd Larsen, executive co-director of consumer and corporate engagement at Green America. “The Obama Administration and Congress should take action this year to support the ability of all Americans to invest in the clean energy economy, label GMO foods and increase support for organic agriculture, and break up banks that are too big to fail and increase support for community development banks and credit unions nationwide.”
To create a green economy that works for everyone, Green America urges the President and Congress to promote the following:
- Clean Energy Victory Bonds to boost the clean energy economy. The President emphasized the need to transition away from dirty energy to a clean energy economy, and Americans agree. Polling consistently finds that the vast majority of Americans support the development of clean energy. A USA Today poll this week found that 80% of millennials say the United States should transition to mostly clean or renewable energy by 2030. The government can make it possible for these Americans to invest directly in clean energy by passing Clean Energy Victory Bonds legislation. The legislation would create Treasury Bonds available for as little $25 that would raise $50 billion to support clean energy and energy efficiency incentive programs nationwide – spurring over $150 billion in investment in the clean energy economy and over one million jobs.
- More green economy jobs. Greater support for clean energy, transportation, and infrastructure would create good-paying jobs across the country. Research consistently shows that green sector jobs pay higher wages (including for workers who did not attend college), and many jobs in the clean energy, transportation and infrastructure sectors can’t be exported. The President stated that he will push to impose the true costs of oil and coal on those industries, to invest money back into communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work to build a 21st century transportation system. In addition to creating jobs through the passage of Clean Energy Victory Bonds legislation, Green America supports putting a price on carbon to support job growth in clean energy and transportation technologies.
- Trade that benefits all. The President stated that “government should play a role in making sure the system is not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations.” However, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by his Administration both put power in the hands of corporations and undermine democracy. They threaten the safety of American foods (undermining current food safety standards), the environment and American jobs. Polls demonstrate that Americans oppose trade deals that will undermine U.S. jobs. Congress should reject both trade deals.
- Break up mega banks and support local banking. The megabanks that crashed the U.S. economy in 2008 are now even larger and pose just as much risk to the economy. As the President stated “Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did.” Megabanks are also devoting little of their assets to community lending. Polls demonstrate that the majority of Americans are in favor of breaking up megabanks. Green America supports legislation to break up the largest banks and supports increased federal funding for community development banks and credit unions that support local businesses building healthy economies.
- Safer and healthier foods. The President’s address was silent on food issues, even though they are a major concern for Americans and an important way to address climate change. Polls demonstrate that over 90 percent of Americans want genetically engineered foods labeled, and purchasing data demonstrates that Americans of all walks of life are voting with their dollars for more organic foods, and moving away from processed foods with pesticide-laden ingredients. Companies are starting to respond to consumers by offering more organic and fresh foods, and Campbell’s recently came out in favor of a national mandatory label for GMOs. Congress should pass The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act to institute mandatory labeling. The USDA and FDA should halt approval of GMO crops until they are proven safe and the USDA should continue to increase funding to support organic farmers and research nationwide (both currently get a small fraction of the funding dedicated to conventional agriculture), and support research and implementation of regenerative agriculture that would sequester carbon and combat climate change.
ABOUT GREEN AMERICA
Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today's social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org.
Please contact Todd Larsen by email