Obama to Bring Together Dept. of Energy, EPA, NASA and NOAA to Create Jobs, Combat Climate Change

President Obama will be bringing together the US EPA, The Dept. of Energy with NASA and the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in a confab next week (Feb. 13) to create green jobs while reducing climate change, according to Gerald Geernaert, Director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The meeting marks a watershed moment. As a group these agencies have had little interaction in the past. The imploding economy and climate change are forces compelling action on a scale never experienced.

That means system approaches will be necessary to develop “World Bank-scale” economic development projects transforming local and regional renewable energy, energy efficiency, infrastructure, transportation, buildings, as well as the regulatory environment.

NASA, for instance, is developing personal rapid transportation modules at its Ames Research facility in California. This technology can greatly reduce greenhouse gases (soon to be regulated by the US EPA) and reliance on foreign oil (DOE), while providing jobs in management, design, manufacturing and construction.

In terms of NOAA, some of the impacts of climate change are already becoming apparent. This agency’s research on actual and forecast climate change effects can inform the design and adaptation of everything from energy systems, to buildings and entire developments, as well as the nation’s energy grid.

The news of the multi-agency meeting, which is set to occur next Friday in Washington, was referred to this morning in a Rohnert Park, CA conference by Geernaert.

Discussed at the Applied Solutions Conference were strategies counties or communities can use to increase their opportunties to recieve funding under the new Stimulus Package in Congress, also known as the American Recovery Act and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Among the sustainability funding currently available in the measure’s current form:

  • $14.3-18 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy, including $7 in federal green building upgrades and $6.5 billion upgrading the grid for energy efficiency and to accommodate transmission from increased renewable

The funding targeted at or available to local governments in the current stimulus bill includes:

  • $2.1 billion (out of $4.2 billion) in new federal block grants for coalitions of local government awarded by the Department of Energy as part of a green project competition. These local governments would need to be in states that meet certain federal energy efficiency standards.
  • $6 billion in DOE loan guarantees for research or production of alternative fuels such as celluosic ethanol and biomass energy
  • funding for 20-30 communities with populations of more than 100,000 as part of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s new “Premier Communities” program
  • About $2 billion for clean technologies development as part of a competitive “Clean Counties” program, again managed by the Department of Energy.

The invitation-only conference, the Applied Solutions Workshop, put by the Sonoma County Water Agency, featured county sustainability managers, Los Alamos National Laboratory representatives,
and sustainability experts in renewables, green building, water
technologies, energy efficiency, financing and education.