Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vice President Biden Kicks Off Earth Day Activities; 25 Communities Selected for Recovery Act 'Retrofit Ramp-Up' Energy-Efficiency Awards

Today, Vice President Joe Biden [pictured] kicks off five days of Administration events around the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with the announcement of the selection of 25 communities for up to $452 million in Recovery Act funding to "ramp-up" energy-efficiency building retrofits.

Under the Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, communities, governments, private-sector companies and nonprofit organizations will work together on pioneering and innovative programs for concentrated and broad-based retrofits of neighborhoods and towns -- and, eventually, entire states. These partnerships will support large-scale retrofits and make energy efficiency accessible to hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses.

During the next three years, the models created through this program are expected to save households and businesses about a $100 million annually in utility bills -- all while leveraging private-sector resources -- to create what funding recipients estimate at about 30,000 jobs across the country.

"For 40 years, Earth Day has focused on transforming the way we use energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuel," said Vice President Biden. "But this year, because of the historic clean-energy investments in the Recovery Act, we're poised to make greater strides than ever in building a nationwide clean-energy economy. This investment in some of the most innovative energy-efficiency projects across the country will not only help homeowners and businesses make cost-cutting retrofit improvements, but also create jobs right here in America."

"This initiative will help overcome the barriers to making energy efficiency easy and accessible to all – inconvenience, lack of information, and lack of financing,” said Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu. "Block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, we will make our communities more energy-efficient and help families save money. At the same time, we’ll create thousands of jobs and strengthen our economy."

In addition to the $452 million Recovery Act investment, the 25 projects announced today will leverage an estimated $2.8 billion from other sources over the next three years to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country. Overall, the program funding was eight times oversubscribed, with more than $3.5 billion in applications received for the just over $450 million in Recovery Act funds available, indicating significant demand for investment in energy-saving and job-creating projects like these nationwide.

Grantees will employ innovative financing models to make these savings accessible; e.g., by offering low- and no interest loans that are repaid through property tax and utility bills. In implementing these projects, grantees will deliver verified energy savings and incorporate sustainable business models, to ensure that buildings will continue to be retrofitted after Recovery Act funds are spent. The Department will use the lessons learned from these pilot programs to develop best-practice guides to comprehensive retrofit programs that can be adopted and implemented by other communities across the country.

The Retrofit Ramp-Up projects, which are part of the overall $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, complement the Obama Administration’s "Recovery Through Retrofit" initiative, which lays the groundwork for a self-sustaining and robust home energy-efficiency industry. The awards are the competitive portion of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant [EECBG] Program, which was funded for the first time under the Recovery Act to help state, local, and tribal communities make strategic investments in improving energy efficiency, and reducing energy use and fossil fuel emissions.

Secretary Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, joined Vice President Biden today for the announcement, which was the first of more than two dozen events and activities Administration officials will participate in and around Earth Day.

In addition to today’s event, President Barack Obama will host an Earth Day reception with environmental leaders on Thursday, April 22; a video message from the President will air as part of events on the National Mall on Sunday, April 25; and Administration officials will participate in educational programs with school children, visit wetland and coastal restoration projects, and participate in community service projects as part of the President’s Earth Day call to action.

The events will highlight some of the ways in which the Administration is working to improve the environment, transform American infrastructure for greater energy efficiency, and build a clean-energy economy that supports the jobs of the future. As part of the events, Administration officials will also continue the push for Congress to act on HOMESTAR legislation and comprehensive energy and climate change legislation that will ultimately benefit individual homeowners and small businesses alike.

A full roster of Administration Earth Day activities is below, and more information on the President’s Earth Day call to action is available at

The following governments and nonprofit organizations have been selected for Retrofit Ramp-Up awards. These projects are planned to begin in fall 2010. Final award amounts are subject to negotiation:

* Austin, Texas -- $10 million
* Boulder County, Colorado -- $25 million
* Camden, New Jersey -- $5 million
* Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning -- $25 million
* Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, Ohio -- $17 million
* Greensboro, North Carolina -- $5 million
* Indianapolis, Indiana -- $10 million
* Kansas City, Missouri -- $20 million
* Los Angeles County, California -- $30 million
* Lowell, Massachusetts -- $5 million
* State of Maine -- $30 million
* State of Maryland -- $20 million
* State of Michigan -- $30 million
* State of Missouri - $5 million
* Omaha, Nebraska -- $10 million
* State of New Hampshire -- $10 million
* New York State Research and Development Authority -- $40 million
* Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- $25 million
* Phoenix, Arizona -- $25 million
* Portland, Oregon -- $20 million
* San Antonio, Texas -- $10 million
* Seattle, Washington -- $20 million
* Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance -- $20 million
* Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Ohio -- $15 million
* Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation -- $20 million

For more information on the selected projects, visit

A map of the selected projects is available at

* Residential and commercial buildings consume 40 percent of the energy and represent 40 percent of the carbon emissions in the United States. Building efficiency represents one of the easiest, most immediate and most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions and save money on energy bills while creating new jobs.

* Existing techniques and technologies in energy-efficiency retrofitting can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent per home and lower total associated greenhouse gas emissions by up to 160 million metric tons annually.

* Residential and commercial retrofits also have the potential to cut energy bills by $40 billion annually.

Carol Browner, Director of Energy and Climate Change Policy
Thursday, April 22 @ 12:00 p.m. ET -- Live Web Chat
Carol Browner was the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton [the longest ever to hold that post], and currently serves as Director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy. Tune in to the White House website to learn more about President Obama's efforts to build a clean-energy economy and protect our environment:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Thursday, April 22 -- Washington, D.C.
Secretary Salazar will make remarks on the National Mall for Take a Child to Work/40th Anniversary Earth Day/Buddy the Bison Hike sponsored by the National Park Service. Five hundred local students will participate in the event.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
Wednesday, April 21 -- Washington, D.C.
Secretary Locke will deliver keynote remarks at the Creating Climate Wealth Summit at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He will address how energy reform can strengthen our security and spur economic growth.

Thursday, April 22 – Jersey City, N.J.
Secretary Locke will speak in Jersey City, N.J., at the Lincoln Park restoration project, that is turning a landfill into a healthy wetland. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] funded this habitat restoration project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA].

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis
Thursday, April 22 – Online Web chat
On Thursday, Secretary Hilda L. Solis will host an interactive Web chat to discuss issues and opportunities related to Earth Day. Also on Thursday, the Department of Labor will issue a report detailing opportunities made available over the past year -- including $490 million in Recovery Act funding for green jobs training.

Friday, April 23 – Washington, D.C.
On Friday, a Job Corps ceremony will honor a winning Job Corps Center for their green construction project.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Thursday, April 22 – Chicago, Ill.
Secretary Sebelius will hold an Earth Day health event with Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Ron Sims at Roosevelt Gardens, a Chicago Housing Authority site.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan
Thursday, April 22 – Washington, D.C.
Secretary Donovan will deliver remarks at the Earth Day Network’s 40th Anniversary of Earth Day rally on the National Mall. There, he will highlight the President’s Earth Day call to action and HUD’s efforts to develop more sustainable, inclusive neighborhoods -- all while increasing green-job and green-housing opportunities for families across the country.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
Thursday, April 22, Secretary LaHood – Chicago, Ill.
Secretary LaHood will attend an Earth Day event at Daley Plaza. The event includes a school climate video competition for participating school groups, and will have alternative-fuel vehicles on display.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu
Thursday, April 22 -- Washington, D.C.
Secretary Chu will speak at an Earth Day celebration for Department of Energy employees.

Friday, April 23 – Philadelphia, Pa.
Secretary Chu will hold a clean-energy event that focuses on the benefits of energy efficiency.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan
Thursday April 22 – Washington, D.C.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will deliver remarks at a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day at the National Mall in Washington. Secretary Duncan will discuss how education can play a role in developing a green economy.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
Wednesday, April 21 – Pittsburgh, Pa.
Administrator Jackson will be in Pittsburgh for an ENERGY STAR® event with children from the Sarah Heinz House Boys and Girls Club. This is a club that provides children and teenagers with strong role models and a safe, fun place to go after school, on weekends, and during the summer.

Thursday, April 22 -- New York City
The Administrator will participate in an urban-focused community service project with Green For All at the Grant Houses Community Garden in Manhattan. Administrator Jackson will take a tour of the garden, deliver remarks to press, students and volunteers, and participate in a planting activity with volunteers. The Administrator will also be a guest on "The Late Show with David Letterman" to talk about the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and President Obama’s clean-energy and green-jobs agenda.

Friday, April 23 through Sunday, April 25 -- Washington, D.C.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the EPA will be hosting a celebration event on Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25, on the National Mall. The event will feature a variety of interactive, family-friendly exhibits that highlight the work of the agency and celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. Administrator Jackson will appear on the National Mall on Friday to visit the Office of Research and Development’s P3 student participants and recognize winners. P3 is the next step beyond P2 -- pollution prevention -- and focuses on the three components of sustainability: people, prosperity, and the planet.

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley
Sunday, April 25 – Washington, D.C.
Chair Sutley will deliver remarks at the Earth Day Network’s 40th Anniversary of Earth Day festivities on the National Mall. She will focus on the Obama Administration’s environmental agenda, and how the transition to a clean-energy economy can create millions of American jobs while reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler
Thursday, April 22 – Washington, D.C.
The Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler will attend the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division’s [ENRD] Earth Day 2010 event on April 22 at Marvin Gaye Park, where it has held its annual Earth Day service celebration since 2004. In those five years, the Division has been able to help the park purchase over $7,500 worth of trees and landscaping materials as part of the park revitalization event. ENRD has also devoted over 2,500 hours of employee time to planting trees, removing trash, laying sod, and gardening.

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager
Friday April 23 – Sussex County, Del.
Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will travel to Delaware on Friday to participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for a project that will modernize water quality and public sanitation services in Sussex County through the upgrading of the Inland Bays Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Friday April 23 – Woodland Park, Col.
Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager will travel to Woodland Park, Col., where he will participate in an event marking the use of Recovery Act funds to improve drinking water quality in a subdivision.

Commerce Department Senior Officials
Earth Day Week
From April 17 through 23, the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] leadership is holding events at Recovery Act coastal restoration projects in eight states. The events will highlight job creation in Huntington Beach, Cal.; Cape Hatteras, N.C.; Seattle, Wash.; Muskegon Lake, Mich.; Grande Isle, La.; Maunalua Bay, Hawaii; Jersey City, N.J.; and Florida Keys, Fl.

Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren
Thursday April 22 – Berkeley, Cal.
Office of Science and Techology Policy [OSTP] Director John P. Holdren will be in Berkeley, Cal., where he will give a free, public, evening lecture on the topic of: "Science and Technology for Sustainable Well-Being: Priorities and Policies in the Obama Administration," to be held in Sibley Auditorium in the Bechtel Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Holdren will also note that April 22 marks not only the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, but also the 15th anniversary of a federal program that embodies the central principles of Earth Day: the Global Learning & Observations to Benefit the Environment, or GLOBE, program. Tomorrow, OSTP will release a new report that affirms the many benefits of that environmental education program -- launched on Earth Day 1995 -- and lays out a map for future accomplishments.

GLOBE is just one element in an array of programs and activities being supported by the Administration in the domain of environmental science and education. For more details about GLOBE, visit

Veterans Affairs Officials
Hospital directors and regional office directors will lead Earth Day events at VA health facilities across the country -- including Martinsburg, W.Va.; North Texas; Clarksburg, Va.; Saginaw, Mich.; Battle Creek, Mich.; San Diego, Cal.; Spokane, Wash.; Fresno, Cal.; Los Angeles, Cal.; Long Beach, Cal.; Reno, Nev.; Tucson, Ariz., Boise, Idaho; Menlo Park, Cal.; Palo Alto, Cal.; and Ft. Harrison, Mont.

Treasury Department Initiative
Earth Day Week
With Americans poised to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a broad, new initiative to dramatically increase the number of electronic transactions that involve Treasury, plus millions of citizens and businesses -- a move that is expected to save more than $400 million and 12 million pounds of paper in the first five years alone. Treasury will also make an announcement about a change in the Department’s energy consumption that, when coupled with the move from paper to electronic transactions, will greatly reduce Treasury’s environmental impact.

Earth Day Week – Washington, D.C.
NASA's participation in the celebration of Earth Day's 40th anniversary on the National Mall in Washington began on Saturday, April 17. The agency's involvement includes nine consecutive days of activities and exhibits open to the public. The NASA Village, which contains three domed tents, will highlight the use of NASA science and technology to advance knowledge and awareness about our planet and sustain our environment.

Thanks to President Obama's pivotal Recovery Act and his hand-picked Administration of innovative thought leaders and get-it-done men and women, America is finally beginning to turn the corner on far too many years -- eight, to be exact -- of environmental neglect.

With patience, pragmatism, and collaborative, can-do spirit and action, individuals, businesses, nonprofits and public agencies can sustainably prosper in this ecosystem called Earth.

Happy Earth Day, one and all!

SOURCES: Organizing for America, U.S. Department of Energy, The White House

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