Friends of the Earth president Brent Blackwelder and journalist James S. Henry believe that the federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac needs to come with some very green strings attached.
"After nearly a decade of US overspending on largely non-green, energy-inefficient, low-density housing, our nation is in the midst of the largest bank bailout since the 1980s Savings and Loan crisis. Congress is responding by rushing through legislation that would allow the US Treasury to lend up to $300 billion to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two gargantuan government-sponsored enterprises that now guarantee nearly 45 percent of the nation's $12 trillion in mortgages.
[I]t is entirely appropriate for the public to demand that Congress not just give the highly paid managers of Freddie and Fannie yet another blank check. Instead, we should seize the opportunity provided by this debt crisis to attack another dire problem--the energy crisis and the threat of catastrophic climate change.
Now is the time to create a green Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We need to be farsighted as we look to the next generation of houses. As a nation we can no longer afford to be environmentally neutral when it comes to providing mortgages -- institutions like Fannie and Freddie need to design explicit programs to reward mortgage lenders who encourage energy-efficient design....An aggressive green lending program...could [also] help relocate homes out of hazard areas, rather than underwrite activities that enable building in high-hazard zones."