Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Future Jobs in Clean Energy

The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing new regulations on air pollution, much to the chagrin of several Right Wingers who claim that global warming is a hoax, or that dirty, non-renewable energy and strict regulation of the EPA is a priority (interestingly, strict regulation of Wall Street is not). I've written about the proposed regulations before, which basically limit the number of pollutants that power utilities can release into the air.

Recently, a report was commissioned by Ceres to investigate how many jobs could be created by the new EPA regulations. The results were astounding. The report estimates that over the next five years, the regulations would create 1.5 million jobs in fields as varied as engineering, construction, consulting and pipe-fitting. The report was conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Political Economy and Research Institute, which found that, since 1970, every dollar invested to comply with the Clean Air Act has brought about between 4 and 8 dollars in economic benefit.

Not all the new jobs would be permanent, the report concludes, but new plants complying with the higher standards will create at least a few thousand permanent jobs, and new job opportunities in exports and clean energy technology were not included in the report. Senator Tom Carper points out that the new rules will save thousands of lives and billions in healthcare costs, "but will also create almost 300,000 jobs every year." Basically, the new pollutant regulations are a really good thing.

The "Party of No" begs to differ. In fact, GOP lawmakers are so against the EPA regulations that they are targeting the EPA (as well as high speed rail and other renewable energy programs) in proposed budget cuts. I understand that coal is an important part of America's history and economy, and I certainly don't want coal and other industrial plants to go out of business because of the regulations, but the GOP needs to come to terms with the reality of Global Warming and accept that the present solutions aren't all that bad. It seems almost like petty showmanship to target the EPA. I, for one, am crossing my fingers that rational thinkers on both sides of party lines band together to defend all the environmental issues threatened by budget cuts.

I'll leave you with this disturbing video of Rep. Fred Upton, new chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in which he panders skillfully and questions the causes of Global Warming. Here's to hoping his opinions are a distinct minority.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I'm glad that since it is glaringly obvious that the Earth's average temperature is warming, the opponents of energy legislation have to concede that fact. Still, I wonder what Upton thinks is behind the warming? The sun isn't getting warmer, volcanic activity can't account for the rise in temperature or the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, and the current warming does not conform to the historical trends of natural warming and cooling periods.