Hawaii Could Be First in Nation to Establish 'Clean Economy Bank' For Energy

flickr: kenteegardin

President Barack Obama pushed for a national version of it back in 2008, but it went nowhere.

Now, Hawaii is considering the creation of a "clean economy bank." And it’s attracted the attention of Obama’s former green energy czar.

Van Jones, who oversaw $80 billion in green recovery spending for the Obama administration in 2009, was in Honolulu Tuesday and testified in favor of House Bill 1033 before the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, calling it a “path-breaking proposal.”

The bank would allow clean energy companies to take out low interest loans. And the revenue generated would go back to the state, as opposed to being retained by private banks, supporters say. Start-up funding could come from more than $10 million in federal stimulus money for energy projects that the state has yet to disburse.

“You don’t control a lot of things in this world,” Jones told senators. “You don’t control the weather, you don’t control the global economy, you can’t control the unwanted impacts of climate change. But you do have something that you can control — the leftover (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds are within your control, and the ongoing revenues you collect in taxes, and where you choose to put those revenues are within your control.”

The bill passed 3-1. Sen. Slam Slom, the lone Republican senator, opposed it. The measure now goes to the Ways and Means Committee.

If it passes, the bank will be the first of its kind in the country, Jones told Civil Beat.

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