WASHINGTON- While President Bush turned his head towards the heavens,a coalition of labor unions and environmental groups unveiled a plan Wednesday that calls for $300 billion over 10 years to research and design alternative energy sources.
The New Apollo Plan,named after John F. Kennedy's Apollo Mission to put a man on the moon,stands as a substitute to the plan President Bush proposed last year and concentrates on renewable energy sources such as solar,biomass and wind technologies while producing millions of jobs for Americans.
“I’m excited about the Apollo Alliance and its vision for our energy future,” said Rep. Mark Udall,D-Colo.,in an e-mail statement. “The study the Apollo Alliance released today underscores the reality that a healthy and sustainable economy and a healthy and sustainable environment are not mutually exclusive; in fact,they go hand-in hand. It spells out how we can achieve energy independence in a decade by making strategic investments in clean energy technology and new infrastructure.”
Udall,a key supporter of the plan,canceled his scheduled appearance at the news conference because of an obligation in Colorado,his spokesman said.
The Perryman Group,an economic and financial analysis group from Texas that produced the report at no charge,estimated that the plan would generate almost 1.4 million permanent jobs,produce $284 billion in net energy savings and stimulate the economy by adding $953 billion in personal income and $324 billion in retail sales.
“This is the 41st consecutive month that we've lost jobs in the manufacturing sector,” said M. Ray Perryman,president of the Perryman Group. “That is indicative of a trend,a very disturbing trend. The only way to reverse that is … to make the next generation of products.”
Highlights of the plan include advanced technology in hybrid cars,more efficient factories,a modernized electrical system and improved mass transportation options. President Bush's plan relied on producing more energy from oil and other traditional sources.
The Apollo plan would also create 2 million jobs a year for the duration of the project and help America become “energy independent” by not relying on foreign oil.
“What intrigued me was the list of people supporting this,” Perryman said.
Seventeen labor unions – including the United Steel Workers of America,United Automobile and Aerospace Workers,and the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council – most major environmental groups and many politicians,including Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean,John Kerry and Wesley Clark support the Apollo Project.
“We can only succeed if we come together,like the Apollo Alliance has,to balance our priorities for the environment,energy independence and job creation,” Kerry said in a press release.
On the same day President Bush unveiled his plan to send a man to Mars,the Apollo Alliance argued for more jobs and revenue here on Earth.
“Creating a sustainable energy system requires imagination,requires invention,and it requires remarkable vision,” said Robert Borosage,co-director of the Campaign for America's Future. “This is the stuff of dreams that deals with real-world imperatives.”
Republican Sens. Pete Domenici,N.M.,chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee,and Ben Nighthorse Campbell,Colo.,a committee member,who both favored Bush's stalled energy plan,declined to comment on the Apollo proposal.
Some of the nation's largest unions will be pressing the Apollo Plan with Democratic candidates in the coming months.
“Rather than worry about making sure we can secure oil from corporations in the Mid-East,you'd better be worried about securing jobs and energy self-sufficiency for workers in the Midwest,” said Leo Gerard,president of United Steelworkers of America.
Gerard also cited the future as a key reason to support renewable energy sources.
“I don't want my grandkids to come into a world where you can't get a decent family-supporting industrial job and that I've got to live in fear of terrorism because we have to protect our oil assets … in the Mid-East,” Gerard said. “The Apollo Plan and the Apollo Alliance lead us in a totally different generation and direction.”
Other nations have surged ahead of America in producing renewable energy sources.
According to the report,Japan controls 43 percent of the solar power market,“an industry invented in America,” and European countries control 90 percent of wind turbine production,while America is importing fuel cells from Canada.