Rising energy costs act like a tax on consumer consumption and reduce demand in the economy. The economic stimulus package should therefore include aid directed at helping consumers cover higher energy costs as part of a series of measures to encourage energy efficiency and spur green job growth. These green steps would not only strengthen the economy in the short term; they would move America toward a new low-carbon future and boost its long-term economic competitiveness.
The first step would be to fund fully the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, to the level authorized by the Energy Independence and Security Act, which is $5.1 Billion in FY 2008. The “heating-cooling affordability gap” is estimated to be over $10 billion. Another step would be to encourage consumers to purchase energy-efficient appliances by extending the energy efficient appliance credit (from the energy tax provisions removed from the 2007 Energy Bill right before passage), and provide a tax credit for individual spending (not through an employer) on public transit.
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