by The Oregonian editorial board

Monday February 16, 2009, 4:41 PM

Today, when President Barack Obama signs the nation’s huge economic stimulus bill, Oregon will be ready, or at least almost ready, thanks to a promising strategy being marketed as “The Oregon Way.”

It’s the brainchild of Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who vows to compete aggressively with other states for federal dollars available through part of the $789 billion package. At stake is $37 billion for construction projects, and states will go head-to-head for this money and the million-plus jobs it will create.

Kulongoski’s strategy is vividly green.

He figures Oregon can acquire a competitive edge for the federal stimulus grants by developing proposals bristling with innovative ideas that promote renewable energy, conservation, carbon reduction and sustainable development.

You know, the stuff Obama likes. That may sound flip, but it’s true: The president has made it clear his administration will promote economic recovery in part by emphasizing investment in a so-called “green” economy.

For Oregon, according to Kulongoski, that could mean building something like “the largest solar highway in the world.” He floated that idea last week as an extension of a 2008 Oregon innovation, the nation’s first solar-powered freeway lighting at the Interstate 5-205 interchange south of Portland.

Other possibilities on the governor’s list: building a new prison at Junction City and a new school for flood-ravaged Vernonia using the latest in sustainable techniques.

Those are the right kind of ideas, but the list needs sharpening and perhaps an inspiring centerpiece. Kulongoski has directed that this work be done by a panel he calls The Oregon Way Advisory Group, yet to be appointed as a mix of private business leaders and public officials.

Naming such a task force will turn out to be a good idea, if it doesn’t get mired in competing visions or petty bureaucratic process. The governor will need to see that this doesn’t happen.

Oregon’s well-established commitment to renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions probably gives it an advantage over many other states in securing the federal grants. But Oregonians should keep in mind that a lot of other states, particularly in the West, have made similar commitments, leveling the playing field somewhat.

Home to about 1 percent of the U.S. population, Oregon would stand to get about $370million of the federal construction money if ends up being doled proportionately. If not, Kulongoski’s approach may at the very least keep Oregon from getting short shrift.

Governors in other states have appointed “stimulus czars” to coordinate requests for the grants. Even if Kulongoski’s task force proves a more effective option, he will still need someone to pitch Oregon’s proposals to the federal government.

Given his evangelical passion for everything green, the governor himself may be the best salesman for that job.

— Bob Caldwell, editorial page editor;

3 Responses

  1. First of all I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I’d
    like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious
    to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
    I’ve had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts
    out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the
    first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thank you!

Comments are closed.