Biden: $8 Billion in Stimulus Money for Energy Projects

Mar 12, 2009 11:06am

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: Vice President Biden announced today that nearly $8 billion of stimulus money will start flowing to state and local governments for weatherization efforts ($5 billion) and energy efficiency projects ($3 billion). The Obama administration says this money will put 87,000 Americans to work through partnerships with the Department of Energy and state and local governments. The first installment of this money, about $780 million, will be released in the next few days. The Energy Department intends to release additional funding after states demonstrate that they are using the funds “effectively and responsibly to create jobs and cut energy use.” The funding will go to weatherization of homes, including more insulation, sealing leaks and modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment, in order to cut energy costs. The Department of Energy estimates that this money will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home and will be available for families of four making up to $44,000 a year. Biden also announced that today the Department of Transportation is allocating the first funding for airport infrastructure projects, including $10 million to the Pittsburgh International Airport and $2 million to the Allegheny County Airport in Pennsylvania, to be used for runway, taxiway and ramp repair. Biden said that $1 billion from the stimulus money has been allocated for such projects at some of the 3,400 airports across country. At the White House this morning, Biden addressed officials from across the country who came to discuss the allocation and implementation of the stimulus money. The White House wants to hear from these officials on how they are spending this money and make sure it was being used to rebuild budgets and get people working. President Obama put Biden in charge of the oversight effort because “nobody messes with Joe.” Saying he was going to be blunt and go off-script, Biden warned against misuse of stimulus dollars and said the administration will be keeping a close eye on where the money was going. “All that is legal is not acceptable. Let me say it again:  Just because it may be legal it is not acceptable,” Biden said, adding that tomorrow the president will announce regulations on how the stimulus money can be spent. “Little hint: No swimming pools in this money.” Biden repeatedly stressed that this massive federal spending is unique and requires discipline, accountability and transparency, which he said he will do as head of the oversight board. “This is not your usual federal grant going to the states,” Biden said. “Six months from now, if the verdict on this effort is that we’ve wasted the money, we built things that were unnecessary, or we’ve done things that are legal but make no sense, then, folks, don’t look for any help from the federal government for a long while.” “If we don’t get this right, folks, this is the end of the opportunity to convince the Congress that anything should go to the states,” he said. “Sheriff” Biden told state officials that if their governors have any problems, ring up the White House. “Tell your governors, literally, if they have a problem, if they’re confused, if you’re confused about what needs to be done, literally pick up the phone and call me. Call me,” the vice president said. — Karen Travers

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