A Green New Deal? Job Creation, Environmental Progress, And The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Ackerman, Dylan [Browse]
Senior thesis
123 pages


Zelizer, Julian [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
The United States currently faces two of its most difficult, but often opposing challenges in recent memory. In economic affairs, the effects of the Great Recession linger, while more gradual, long-term changes to the economy leaves entire communities of industrial workers without a livable salary for years to come. In addition, though very different, the world faces what many consider the greatest challenge of our generation, preventing catastrophic global climate change. Both of these ongoing issues involve complex solutions and debates, but it is a safe assumption that each will warrant the attention of policymakers for decades. In order to address these two dilemmas together, one idea that has gained significant traction in recent years is the idea of green jobs, employment opportunities in industries that adhere to specific environmental principles. Though loosely defined, many identify industries jobs as potential source of job creation and economic growth, and even President Barack Obama came out in support of an explicit green jobs policy on the campaign trail in 2008. The monumental American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which served to address the major economic recession as well create policy for long-term recovery, included some of the largest federal support programs for green industries to date, with the additional goal of facilitating widespread job creation. This thesis uses these major environmental initiatives to test the potential for green job creation in the immediate term and as a basis for even greater future green jobs support. Each program carries its own set of challenges and potential for progress, and together, these job creation strategies put the United States on the road to a more sustainable future. The Department of Energy Loan Programs Office, the section 1603 Treasury Grants, and the Department of Labor’s Pathways of Poverty Grants each reveal different aspects of the considerable potential environmental industries hold to create jobs over the long term. Enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, these programs already succeeded in creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributing to the nation’s environmental progress. As the country moves forward on each of these issues, the programs at the heart of this thesis can provide a valuable foundation to build future policy around and ensure the federal government’s long-term commitment to environmental progress.

Supplementary Information