President Biden announced some of the most comprehensive climate and clean energy plans in history. Anti-clean energy opponents are already running like dogs to the fence, screaming that they will kill jobs and damage our economy.
do not believe. As they say in my home state of North Carolina, that dog doesn’t just hunt.
Sure, every job is important, especially these days. There’s no doubt that the Biden administration’s announcement Wednesday of a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on our public lands will hit petroleum jobs. Fortunately, the administration also announced plans to help affected communities create new opportunities for displaced fossil fuel workers—something their representatives in Congress should have been doing years ago.
But seeing only the jobs impacts of ending drilling on public lands is only half the story. Other schemes announced by the administration on WednesdayFlexing the market-changing power of federal procurement; Doing more to achieve clean energy and the jobs that come with it in low-income communities and communities of color; Increasing offshore wind and clean agriculture – and making climate a national security issue – will create more jobs and drive greater economic growth than oil and gas. It will also help slow the rising economic costs of climate change, which resulted in 22 major climate disasters last year alone that cost the economy $1 billion or more.
To fully consider the jobs impacts of Biden’s plans, you have to take a thorough look at where energy jobs are in America today.
They are mostly in clean energy – not oil or gas or coal.
Before COVID-19, More than 3.3 million Americans work in clean energy – Solar and wind, but also energy efficiency, clean vehicles, grid modernization, batteries and storage. That’s three times more than the number of Americans working in fossil fuels in our country. Since 2017, clean energy employment has increased by 6 percent, compared to 4 percent for the overall economy. Oil and gas jobs declined by 5 percent over the same period, while coal jobs declined by 7 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts solar installers and wind turbine technicians will be the fastest-growing jobs between now and 2026.
Clean energy jobs pay even better. E2’s . According to Clean Jobs, Better Jobs Report Last year, the median wage for clean energy workers was about $23.87 — about 25 percent higher than the national median wage of $19.14. Solar and wind jobs pay better than fossil fuel extraction jobs (about $24.85 for renewable energy versus $24.37 for fossil fuel extraction). And clean energy jobs also generally come with better health care and retirement benefits than most jobs in America.
Well we’re not talking about clean tech billionaires or the coastal elite. We are talking about sheet metal and steel workers who are manufacturing and installing wind turbine towers and high-efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment; Electricians and construction workers installing LED lighting systems and low-e windows and insulation. We’re talking about the manufacturing workers who build Energy Star appliances, electric vehicles, and the parts that drive them.
Sadly, so far not enough of those jobs have gone to people of color. Today, about 75 percent of clean energy workers across America are white. Black and Latino workers are more underrepresented in clean energy than the rest of the economy, with blacks representing 8 percent of the clean energy workforce and Latinos 16 percent.
The Biden administration also announced Wednesday a focus on environmental justice, which it hopes will help address some diversity inequality, while ultimately addressing climate and pollution issues that have plagued low-income communities and communities of color. Has troubled me for a very long time.
Ultimately, flexing the federal buying power, as the Biden administration plans to do, will turbocharge it all. When the government orders 650,000 electric and other zero-emissions vehicles for the federal fleet, it creates jobs for the auto industry across the country. When it invests in clean energy for the 9,600 buildings owned or managed by the General Services Administration in 2,200 communities nationwide, it drives jobs in solar, wind and energy efficiency in every state. And in addition to creating jobs, that drives down the price of clean energy goods and services for the rest of us.
You just have to see what the past federal government leadership on communications, medical technology and the Internet means for cell phones, healthcare and our online lives today, to see what Biden’s leadership on clean energy means for our future What would it mean for
What you’ll see is that this is how we start to build better.
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