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Infrastructure Spending Can Be 'Green'

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Dec. 24 front-page story " 'Green' Jobs Compete for Stimulus Aid" muddled different kinds of infrastructure spending, ignoring the fact that overhauling our crumbling bridges, roads and water pipes qualifies as "green." As we look to craft a green economic recovery package, we must avoid new-capacity highway projects and instead restore our existing -- and deteriorating -- infrastructure.

Focusing on necessary maintenance and repair will spur growth, with minimal harm to the environment. In fact, investments in road and bridge repair create 9 percent more jobs per dollar than building new roads or bridges. We should also invest in transit projects that are ready to go, such as Oregon's Portland Streetcar, on which work could start in less than four months.

Emphasizing maintenance and making wise investments will spur our economy and give people more transportation choices. Most important, it will prevent the wasting of tax dollars on gratuitous highway spending that does little to improve our nation's transit systems, which have been languishing on local wish lists for years.

EARL BLUMENAUER

U.S. Representative (D-Ore.)

FRANCES BEINECKE

President

Natural Resources Defense Council

Washington

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