Green Scorecard Needed to Evaluate US Federal Spending, Put End to 'K Street Capitalism'

abandonned railroad tracks photo

Under Conniff's proposed green scorecard, public transportation improvements would probably win out over more money for highways. Photo: Michael Pereckas

Recently Barack Obama announced part of his proposed economic recovery plan and touted much of it as being green—particularly infrastructure improvements. There was much talk of rebuilding roads and bridges but nothing about public transit. That may create jobs but does little to get people out of their cars and into more efficient forms of transportation.

However, if the nation adopted a green scorecard, advocates Richard Conniff in a new piece for Yale Environment 360, then the pros and cons of such proposals could more easily be weighed. These are some of the points Conniff proposes be tallied:Economic & Environmental Aspects Weighed
To made a "clear break from business as usual," Conniff recommends that a green scorecard be created which would weigh the following economic and environmental aspects of any proposed project,

  • Does this proposal create American jobs?
  • Does it foster industries where the United States can take a decisive lead?
  • Does it have a short payback period?
  • Does it offer a good return on investment?
  • Does it decrease our carbon footprint?
  • Does it encourage energy independence?
  • Does it improve our air quality?
  • Does it address water quality and supply issues?
  • Does it encourage smart growth rather than sprawl?
  • Does it protect wildlife and other natural resources?

Examples: Ethanol, Electric Transmission, CFLs
Conniff gives a number of examples of how this would work,
Even a relatively simple point system can leave room for nuance. The entire power transmission grid is overdue for an upgrade, but the point system would probably direct early funding to underdeveloped wind power transmission routes. Biofuel in the form of corn ethanol would gain points on energy independence, for instance, but lose them on carbon emissions. A housing project might get +1 point for creating short-lived construction jobs, while an alternative energy plan might score +3 for long-term jobs in manufacturing.

So what do readers think? Will the establishment of such a green scorecard really help evaluate proposed projects and put an end to "K Street Capitalism" or will it just be manipulated like other spending projects, still shortchanging the greater good?

More at: Yale Environment 360
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