You'd already guessed it … but now it's official: The U.S. has been in recession since December 2007. The official announcement was made Monday, followed by yet another drop in the Dow.
My own belief (and the economic consensus is moving in this direction, too) is that public fiscal stimulus is needed stat. Ben Bernanke has tried his best with monetary policy, but the interest rates controlled by the Fed are so low that there's not much left to cut.
One quick fix is available to either the current Administration or to the incoming one, and it's a green one: Complete the pending Department of Energy regulations requiring federal agencies to buy and supply only Energy Star or similarly designated products for all procurements involving energy consumption. The regulations, mandated under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, would also require federal purchasing officials to identify and prominently display such products in inventories and listings.
The completion of these green purchasing requirements would conserve energy by America's biggest single user -- the U.S. government, and provide a fiscal stimulus in the form of federal purchases relating to energy-related products or systems. As well, completion of the regulations would also help to mainstream the use of energy-conserving products throughout the economy, as suppliers become acquainted with these items. Completion of the regulation is therefore of keen interest to the building and construction industries, the IT industry, the lighting industry and others. And federal green purchases help to create green jobs.
The energy-saving purchasing regulations were drafted by the Department of Energy earlier this year, but were withdrawn on November 19, precluding final approval by the government's spending watchdog, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Reasons for the withdrawal are unclear. Typically, federal agencies do not submit regulations to OMB until they are considered complete. Withdrawal frequently means that OMB requested additional fine tuning or that last-minute objections were posed. The Department of Energy says that new final regulations will be issued.
Through December 19 (and up to 30 days after the regulations are resubmitted to OMB, if/when resubmission occurs), you can follow the progress of the regulation at this link: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eoPackageMain. Select the Department of Energy from the second drop-down box menu titled "Regulatory Review Completed in Last 30 Days" and click Submit. (And thanks to OMB Watch, ombwatch.org, for these instructions.) The regulation is titled Federal Procurement of Energy Efficient Products, RIN: 1904-AB68.
Completion of the pending green purchasing requirements would be a win-win, both for the economy and the environment. Here's hoping that we won't have to wait much longer.
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