Hillary, America’s Greentech Queen?

As if we needed any more proof that this is the year the candidates get serious about being green, Sen. Hillary Clinton proclaimed in a speech unveiling her energy policy yesterday that the climate crisis is “one of the greatest economic opportunities in the history of our country.”
Like her fellow Democratic hopeful Barack Obama, Hillary calls for a cap-and-trade system that aims for 80 percent emission reductions by 2050, and also auctions 100 percent of pollution credits. In terms of electricity, she wants 25 percent of it to come from renewable sources by 2030, and her bold plan for biofuels will raise a few eyebrows — 60 billion home-grown gallons by 2030.
Ever on the more pragmatic (others would say conservative) side than her fellow Democratic candidates, Hillary’s plan hinges on the very realistic mission of increasing efficiency, but the scale is ambitious. She borrows Al Gore’s Connie Mae program idea that would help Americans finance energy-saving home projects (the NY Times reports she consulted with the man himself for her speech). She wants to modernize utility grids, promote clean coal, and raise fuel standards to a significant 55 mpg by 2030 (realizing Detroit is a little behind the curve in this area, she promises $20 billion to our automakers to help meet the challenge).

Will she show greentech the money? Early indications are promising. Clinton’s plan would raise piles of cash from rescinding tax breaks for oil companies and the aforementioned pollution credit auctions, and in turn double spending on energy R&D, make the production tax credit for wind and solar permanent, and offer special bonds to individuals and industries for efficiency investments.
Her $50 billion Strategic Investment Fund (that we’ve written about before) would raise one-third of the $150 billion in spending she’s proposing. It’s ambitious, but by now we think she’s used to hearing that word.
In Washington, there would be a new “National Energy Council” (which would presumably spend the first few years hashing out all these details), and all federal buildings designed after 2008 would have to be zero emissions. All in all, Clinton’s plan could create five million new jobs, many of them “green collar” jobs designed to promote the green building industry. If the talk becomes the walk next November, the cleantech industry and the planet may have something to cheer about.