Commentary

New report: Clean energy employment leaving fossil fuels in the dust

As some conservative North Carolina lawmakers plot yet again to scuttle planned expansions of wind energy in the eastern part of the state, there’s new evidence that they are ignoring the obvious — namely, that clean, sustainable energy is the name of the game and it’s time to leave fossil fuels behind. This is from new post at the website Think Progress (“Clean energy employs more people than fossil fuels in nearly every U.S. state”):

“Nationally, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, according to a new Sierra Club analysis of Department of Energy jobs data. And when it comes to coal and gas—two sectors President Donald Trump has promised to bolster through his upcoming executive order on energy regulation—clean energy jobs outnumber jobs dealing with those two fossil fuels by 5 to 1.

‘Right now, clean energy jobs already overwhelm dirty fuels in nearly every state across America, and that growth is only going to continue as clean energy keeps getting more affordable and accessible by the day,’ Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement. ‘These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.’

According to the Sierra Club’s analysis, nearly every state in the country has more jobs in clean energy than fossil fuels—just nine states have more jobs in fossil fuels than in clean energy. Some of largest discrepancies between clean energy jobs and fossil fuel jobs were in states like Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, where jobs in renewable energy ‘vastly exceeded jobs in the fossil fuel industry,’ according to Sierra Club’s analysis. Many of these places also happen to be states that helped Trump win the presidential election in November.”

The report in question includes North Carolina in its list of states in which clean energy jobs predominate:

“The Electric Power Generation segment employs 19,052 workers in North Carolina, 2.2% of the national total. Solar makes up the largest segment with 9,535 jobs, followed by traditional fossil fuel generation at 4,776 jobs.”

The Think Progress story goes on to note that while clean energy growth in the U.S. is rising fast, the country is still falling behind places like China and Brazil and that, not surprisingly, the Trump administration isn’t helping things. Happily, however, as with so many other issues, this does not seem to be a politically viable approach for long. The story notes that, even among Trump supporters, support for sustainable energy is high, with three-quarters favoring policies to spur its growth.

The bottom line: This is another issue in which ideologues on the Right can’t hold back progress for long. Caring and thinking people need to keep pushing.

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