The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

President Clinton's Renewable Energy Ideas; & Delta events in DC set for Oct. 25-27

Posted on June 07, 2011 at 04:28 PM

Delta Grassroots Caucus SEE THE WEBSITE AT WWW.MDGC.US

President William Jefferson Clinton led a bipartisan group of leaders in endorsing a greater focus on green jobs, renewable energy and energy efficiency as the Delta’s greatest economic opportunity in his May 6, 2011 presentation at the Delta Grassroots Caucus conference. President Clinton praised Arkansas’ innovative Home Energy Affordability Loan (HEAL) program as a model that ought to be expanded across all eight states in the Delta.

President Clinton’s position was supported by Gov. Mike Beebe, Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) and other leaders at the May 5-6 conference at the Clinton Presidential Center, and we summarize Bill Clinton’s presentation in this message.

We urge Delta Caucus partners to take up President Clinton’s call for “a relentless focus on energy efficiency and use of agricultural byproducts for alternative uses of energy as well as municipal waste in utilizing everything our land gives us” to create “green jobs.” We should do this every week in telephone, email, and personal meetings with Members of Congress, Obama administration officials, governors and state legislators.

SAVE THE DATES FOR THE OCT. 25-27 DELTA INITIATIVE IN WASHINGTON, DC: In addition to the weekly and monthly ongoing advocacy efforts for renewable energy and energy efficiency, our annual Washington, DC conference will provide an excellent opportunity to urge the Congress, the Obama administration and other national “powers that be” to take more action and less talk about seizing opportunities to improve energy policy. That conference is set for Oct. 25, 26 and 27, 2011 in Washington. We will briefly note that schedule, in which we are shortening the group sessions and providing more flexible time for partners to set up smaller meetings with Congressional and Obama administration offices; and then we will summarize President Clinton’s presentation.

OPENING SESSION: Tuesday evening, October 25, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Room B-339 Rayburn US House of Representatives building.

SENATE SESSION: Wednesday morning, Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to noon, Senate meeting room (to be announced later)

FINAL CAPITOL HILL GROUP SESSION: Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 26, 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., sanctuary of the historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill on East Capitol street just behind the US Supreme Court

SMALLER MEETINGS ON THURSDAY MORNING, OCT. 27, 9 a.m. to noon: We encourage everyone to set up meetings one-on-one or in small groups at Congressional offices, USDA, HHS, DOT, FEMA, the White House, and any other offices you choose to visit.

(Registration and group hotel information are at the bottom of this message.)

President Clinton’s presentation: Bill Clinton began by thanking the participants for “your continued work on the Delta through the Grassroots Caucus,” recalling that he has been involved in the Delta for about 30 years. As governor of Arkansas he co-chaired the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission with Gov. Ray Mabus of Mississippi and Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana. He was heavily engaged in the Arkansas Delta in health care, education and economic issues as governor. As President he assigned all federal government departments and agencies with domestic policy responsibilities to the Delta Regional Initiative, and among many other activities in the Delta, he signed into law the legislation creating the Delta Regional Authority in late 2000 in order to improve community life, develop infrastructure, and help attract new businesses and jobs to the region.

President Clinton recalled the improvements during his administration in such figures as unemployment, in which the region’s unemployment figures stood at 7.5% when his Presidency began but improved to 4.2% by the end of his administration. Poverty figures improved from 18.4% in 1997 to 16.6% in 2001, but unfortunately deteriorated in the Bush administration back to 18.6% in 2004. There have been some job creation and infrastructure accomplishments in recent years. However, he emphasized that despite that progress from 1993 to early 2001, severe problems remain, and the economic crisis in recent years has had a disproportionately negative impact on the already economically distressed Delta, which still suffers from poverty rates, high school dropout figures, population decline, and people without health insurance in figures far worse than the national averages.

Clinton said that new businesses and job creation are essential in the effort to turn the region’s economic situation around, and “your biggest opportunity” is in the field of green jobs, renewable energy and energy efficiency. The problems presented by global climate change present the Delta with “an enormous opportunity to change the way we produce and consume energy and that really gives rural America, and especially the Delta, a chance we have not had in a generation to become a source of economic opportunities and not a source of economic woes.”

Clinton cited the Center for American Progress’ conclusion that if we retrofitted 40% of our public buildings over a decade, this would lead to the creation of 625,000 jobs. “If we did it in five years and also retrofitted our homes, it would create millions of jobs,” he said.

In demonstrating the great potential in re-organizing our energy policy, Clinton cited the following comparison: if $1 billion is invested in a coal-fired power plant, it creates 870 jobs, but if the same $1 billion in invested in energy retrofits, it creates between 7,000 and 8,000 jobs.

Arkansas’ HEAL program: Clinton emphasized that Arkansas’ HEAL (Home Energy Affordability Loan) program placed that state in a position to lead the country on energy policy. HEAL is a program supported by President Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, Gov. Mike Beebe and the state of Arkansas, the Arkansas Congressional delegation, US Dept. of Energy and other partners in a home and business retrofitting program.

The HEAL program has, first, a zero % interest revolving loan fund to assist businesses to do energy retrofits, and then a zero % interest employee loan fund used to match leveraged funds from businesses for the purpose of residential energy audits and retrofits. Three energy partners engaged in audits that identified over a quarter of a million dollars in annual cost savings. More than 500 residential audits will be completed in this program by the end of this year, “we’ve already done some residntial retrofits and will do more. Arkansas has a framework in which other businesses and their employees can get involved and enormous numbers of jobs.”

The HEAL program ought to be expanded in Arkansas and exported to all the other Delta states, and Clinton said “If I can ever help let me know. We have a climate change initiative at the Clinton Foundation and I’d be honored to help in the Delta in any way that I can.”

Clinton called upon the Delta partners, including the university systems in the region, to support expanded use of such alternative energy as cellulosic ethanol, and to close all landfills in the Delta and use them for energy to create jobs.”

He said we should look at how we could get the utilities to finance innovative energy uses and pay back the cost of retrofits through savings in their utility bills. Arkansas is one of 11 states where this is legal, and such a policy would be similar to giving them back a small power plant and permanent electrical capacity.

Clinton said that people can be trained for these jobs in the energy field for employment that can last 20 to 30 years and that do not require a college education.

In concluding, Clinton said “I’ll never forget starting this work in the Delta 25 years ago in a state park in southern Illinois and all the work we’ve done since then up and down the Mississippi River. I really think you’ve finally found an area of expandable economic activity that just requires the organization and financing, and doesn’t require you to import a lot of jobs that otherwise wouldn’t be there, and doesn’t require you to find some miracle cure. We just have to organize ourselves to spend the money we spend on energy in a different way that creates far, far more jobs.”

Please contact your Members of Congress, Obama administration officials, governors and state legislators and urge them to support the HEAL program in Arkansas and set up similar programs in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois. In the fall, take part in the Oct. 25-27 Washington, DC initiative to further push for green jobs and renewable energy.

More information on Arkansas’ HEAL program: Arkansas’ first employer-assisted energy benefit program was started up with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with Dept. of Energy funding provided to the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Change Initiative.

The Home Energy Affordability Loan (HEAL) pilot program targets energy affordability, job creation and greenhouse gas reductions by helping participating businesses reduce their utility expenditures and assisting their employees to perform similar energy saving measures in their homes.

According to information from the Clinton Foundation, the HEAL pilot program does this by providing four Arkansas businesses (one in each Congressional District) with facility audits and zero interest retrofit financing of energy efficiency improvements for their facilities. Following commitment of these commercial retrofit measures, HEAL will provide home audit and retrofit opportunities for up to 100 employees of each participating business. The businesses agree to use a portion of their facility energy savings to develop a zero interest employee loan fund to finance the identified residential improvements for their employees.

This energy efficiency pilot program is designed to:

Increase the competitiveness of Arkansas business by lowering facility energy costs; Increase access to, and deployment of, home energy efficiency retrofits thereby reducing utility burden and increasing disposable income for working families; Demonstrate a new benefit program for businesses that is particularly well-suited for low to moderate income working families; Include a simple retrofit financing tool in the form of an employee loan fund that can be repaid through payroll deductions. The Clinton Climate Initiative in Arkansas (CCI AR) develops and administers the pilot program, including candidate selection in each of the four Congressional Districts.

Fact: 39% more energy per square foot is consumed by homes of low income families than those with household incomes over $75,000.

This is a pilot program. We need to advocate for a major expansion of energy programs similar to the Arkansas HEAL program throughout the Delta.

President Clinton’s emphasis on the potential of renewable energy was shared by Congressmen Mike Ross and Rick Crawford, Gov. Mike Beebe, and many other participants at the conference. Gov. Beebe said Arkansas has a chance to reap big profits with biofuels made from crops, agricultural waste and forest products. He said such an effort would have a national effect by reducing dependence on foreign oil while helping the environment.

Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill praised the potential of alternative fuels. “We’re talking about a game-changer. A bio-economy, whether it’s biofuels, manufacturing components for biofuels. We have some strategic advantages in this region. We have the crop inventory, we have the skill set,” Masingill said.

We need to be forewarned that politicians and government agencies in the rural Midwest are also starting to recognize the potential of renewable energy. Masingill emphasized that “It’s a matter of who gets there first.”

Fernando Cutz, a graduate school student at the Clinton School of Public Service introduced President Clinton, noting that a joint poll of the Wall Street Journal and NBC in 2010 indicated that Bill Clinton was the most well known and popular figure in America, and the second most popular and well known figure in the world after Nelson Mandela. Cutz noted that as President, Bill Clinton signed the Community Re-Investment Act to create more opportunity for lenders to support investment in low-income communities.

Cutz noted that President Clinton had founded the Delta Regional Initiative that led to the creation of the DRA. In recent years the Clinton Foundation has led the alliance for a healthier generation, fighting childhood obesity and hunger–issues that are particularly poignant for the Delta. The Clinton economic opportunity initiative helps states and cities to gain access to better financial services. Fernando Cutz is working on a public service project in the Delta; James “Skip” Rutherford of the Clinton School is to be commended for his continuing focus on the Delta. Fernando Cutz and other Clinton School students are the leaders of the future for the region.

Please save the dates of Oct. 25-27 for the Delta Initiative in Washington, DC.

REGISTRATION: You register by paying the early registration fees of $100 by October 12, 2011. Please make out the $100 registration fees to “Delta Caucus,” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

After October 12, Wednesday, the early registration fee ends and the late registration fees go up to $150. The substantial difference between late and early registration fees is intended to give an incentive for people to register early, because in the past it caused problems for our planning when many people registered at the conference or even after it was over.

GROUP HOTEL: The Radisson at the Reagan Airport is the group hotel. To get the group rate of $225 for the nights of Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, call the hotel at (703) 920-8600 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group.

If you are only planning to participate for the first two days of the conference, you will only have one hotel night to pay for. You can check out on the morning of Oct. 25, check your baggage at the hotel, and then come back and pick it up that afternoon after the conference is over and get a flight back home in the late afternoon or early evening of Oct. 25.

We will go to the meetings each morning in groups of taxi cabs. This is the quickest, most efficient and inexpensive way to get to the meetings. Thanks very much–Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347